When it comes to sartorially emulating the atmosphere of Paris, no brand does it quite like Chanel. And for their spring/summer 2023 show at Paris Fashion Week, the French fashion house outdid themselves.
Virginie Viard, creative director of Chanel, took her latest collection to new heights, particularly when it comes to her masterful dedication to honouring Gabrielle Chanel’s legacy. This time, she and long-time collaborators Inez and Vinoodh, set their sights on a 1961 black-and-white film by Alain Resnais, titled L’Année Dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad), which not only won the Lion d’Or at the Venice film festival that same year but also included designs from Gabrielle Chanel herself.
Gabrielle’s contributions laid within the on-screen wardrobe for the film’s star, Delphine Seyrig, whom she dressed in timeless yet also ahead-of-its-time ensembles. Some of which included the classic Chanel two-piece suit, which fit perfectly with the film’s quintessentially French storyline.
For Chanel’s latest collection, that exact homage began with Viard’s muse, Kristen Stewart, exiting the Le Champo theatre as she wanders the streets of the City of Love. From subway stations to cobblestone pavements, Stewart donned none other than the brand’s spring/summer 2023 collection, boasting its monochrome palette and pops of sorbet hues.
“It’s no longer important to know who you are or what you want. It’s important to burn down your very best yesterday, every day, so you can start again.”
At the show itself, the star-studded audience sat in front of a large cinema-like screen where they watched Stewart frolic, and soon, models began walking in front of their eyes.
“The mythologies that define us, that unite us, they’re ours to create. Everything is on the table,” Stewart continued to say on-screen.
Of course, a Chanel show wouldn’t be complete without an array of tweed, done so through iterations of utility suits and slouchy sets. Models, like Dutch model Rianne Van Rompaey, strutted down the runway in black chiffon cocktail dresses and floor-length evening gowns, as well as an endless parade of polka dots.
With a collection that feels almost effortless in its production, each look appears to have transcended between the past and the future, transporting us back to the old Paris, with Gabrielle by our side. But this time, silhouettes are more modern, techniques have grown in complexity and the brand’s sense of self has evolved.
For the footwear, each look was paired with heeled boots or their signature cap-toed shoes, worn with matching crystallised socks or white fish net stockings for a fresh take on the French house’s preppy aesthetic.
Accessories were kept light with only a few handbags and a careful use of the brand’s signature gold chains. Sheer chiffon and silver sequins were scattered through the runway with ostrich feather trims and an abundance of silver jewellery falling off the body effortlessly.
Jackets casually draped the body, deep necklines giving a hint of seductiveness but never anything more than that. Ruffled hems and Camelia flower prints added a feminine edge to the heavily dark-hued collection. And tweed was given a modern spin with jackets finishing mid-way and matching skirts sitting low on the hips.
“Fashion week encompasses many of the feelings of the moment,” Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, said before the show, as per The Guardian. “But at Chanel we prefer a dream, some serenity, over controversy.”
The collection itself aimed to play with the idea of allure, Viard’s consistent switch ups of design method and imagination have seen that proven entirely through her reign at Chanel. Viard’s spring/summer ’23 collection isn’t fussy, despite what many have seen from the brand in past collections.
Pavlovsky also spoke on Chanel’s dedication to their physical stores over prioritising e-commerce, explaining that Chanel isn’t about product, bur rather the “spirit” of its customer base.
“We have more customers coming into our boutiques, in every location, than ever before,” he said, as per The Guardian. “Chanel is not about a product, it is about a silhouette and a spirit.”