The best outfit for dealing with a pandemic? Try a bouclé dress, two-tone kitten heels and a handbag with a double C logo chain shoulder strap.
Despite all commercial forecasts, Chanel is coming out of a tough two years in retail virtually unscathed. The luxury brand’s revenue grew in double digits in the first six months of 2021, the latest period for which earnings were posted, and the house expects to return to 2019 profitability levels soon. to mouth-watering price hikes, with some classic handbag designs now priced 40% more than in early 2020. In times of anxiety, it seems a Chanel handbag is the gold standard. gold of fashion.
The late Karl Lagerfeld, who loved a big party and featured rocket launches and surprise concerts at his shows, would surely have made Chanel’s first runway show of the year a real spectacle, with enough action sequences and pranks within the Easter eggs to fill a Marvel movie. But Virginie Viard, who hired Chanel three years ago, designs fashion rather than runway shows.
The sleek, minimalist show set was created by French artist Xavier Veilhan using plywood walkways and inflatable benches. A raked sand walkway hinted at racecourses while the bumpy mounds for spectators, a Chanel spokesperson said, were inspired by mini-golf courses. Few graphic metal sculptures rotated silently, like chariot wheels or majestic spindles. Guests were required to show proof of vaccination and a negative antigenic result upon entry, with N95 masks a mandatory dress code and social distancing observed on the benches.
The show began with Chanel ambassador Charlotte Casiraghi taking a ride around the room on horseback, marking the second time Viard has featured a horse at one of her shows. Viard is quietly bringing her Chanel closer to Coco’s understated elegance, albeit with a dose of Lagerfeld’s’ 80s glitz thrown in for fun. Not only was Coco Chanel an equestrian enthusiast who owned a racehorse, Romantica, but she was also a pioneer in freeing women from bulky skirts.
In the 1920s Chanel designed her breeches, based on those worn by men but adapted to flatter her shape. She paired her her breeches and riding boots with a white shirt and tailored wool vest for a sleek modern look that helped set a new trend. These nuggets of Coco Chanel’s spirit and energy are to Viard’s Chanel shows what the show pieces were to Lagerfeld’s.
When models emerged, the first six outfits featured pants rather than traditional skirts. A simple dark blue tweed trouser suit arrived first, followed by a sleeker version of the same look, with silver edges and balloon-shaped pants. Each look was slightly more elaborate than the previous one, but in subtle gradations. There was a caramel jazzy tweed, followed by a jacket worn with feathered trousers, and then a lavender jacket paired with white laser-embroidered culottes.
Two-tone Mary Jane shoes and simple ball gowns with wide straps add a 1920s twist to evening wear. Even the bride who closed the show as per haute couture tradition looked casual, with a loose dress and no veil. Viard highlighted as a key piece a long dress entirely embroidered by the venerated Lesage atelier with “constructivist camellia” in black, white and coral beads, which he described as “references [which] they also belong to Gabrielle Chanel, of course. It’s like a conversation that crosses time ”.