Evolving the Chanel Identity, One Thread at a Time
By Angela Baidoo
Virginie Viard is encouraging today’s Chanel customer – with the words of the house founder Gabrielle Chanel – to give way to being concerned with elegantly draping one’s body and take the conversation inward, towards “an inner attitude”. The designer brought that message home in the recruiting of brand ambassador, Kristen Stewart, to perform in the short film which accompanied todays show.
It’s important to burn down your very best yesterday, every day, so you can start again
– Kristen Stewart, Chanel
The theme of the collage gave birth to a graphic monochrome palette of black and white, and we saw how the word manifested in the set design and collection. Working with photographers Inez and Vinoodh a 40-metre-long collage was designed, made up of all the campaigns and editorials the team have shot for the brand over the past three years, with Kristen Stewart and Gabrielle Chanel featuring heavily. The collage was also immortalised in the opening look, in a vintage-style printed jersey.
There was a youthful air to the opening third of today’s collection that we have not seen from the designer of late, from the mini polka-dot blazer dress, the leather camisole set, and the cropped knitted skirt and sweater emblazoned with the brands logo – and worn by a plus-sized model. The shrunken and cropped proportions were a refreshing break away from the classic lengths which followed.
Getting into how the next generation of Chanel customer is already wearing the brand, if today’s street style landscape is anything to go by. There is a preference for wearing the classic boucle jacket oversized and paired with a mini skirt or straight leg denim, or going full-on 90s and buying into heavily logoed crew neck knits.
She may not be evident on the runway – which may in part be down to some behind-the-scenes styling choices – but there is very much a young Chanel customer waiting in the wings, already buying into categories such as handbags, small leather goods, shoes, and knitwear, with the most significant indicator of the brands desire to covet this co-hort, sitting in the front row. The positioning of Jennie Ruby Jane (aka Jennie Kim) of south-Korean band Blackpink, demonstrates how the brand can appeal to this demographic, with the styling of a colourful logoed asymmetric knitted mini paired with an – oversized – cardigan.
The graphic effect of black and white somehow made this collection feel more iconic, similar to what was created for the brands summer 2022 collection, which had fashion feeds abuzz for days. This timeless palette worked at both ends of the show, with an asymmetric knitted sweater that had a deep cold-shoulder detail standing out for its edginess and crying out to be styled with a pair of baggy denim jeans.
The inky black closing looks confirmed the season-long trend for collections which have had more in common with the season they were being shown in, despite a lightness created through sheer layers, the summer goth look for day or night – as a reflection of the times we are living in – is being solidified as a firm favourite for trend of the season.
An asymmetric knitted sweater that had a deep cold-shoulder detail is crying out to be styled with a pair of baggy denim jeans which reflect its edginess.
In the film which accompanied today’s show, Kristen is asked her take on the future by a reporter, and responds with “Our identities are these lifelong evolving art projects”. This could also be an accurate way to describe how Virginie Viard is steering Chanel into the future, as a slow, but steady evolution of what has gone before.