What’s in a dress code? The art of dressing has been lost on this generation—whether we have the pandemic or social media to blame is up for discussion—with the code or compulsory mode of dressing for an event of ignored and resigned to the bottom corner of an skimmed invitation.
Bu at Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2023 Haute Couture collection, the maison’s Creative Director Virginie Viard is making a case why these conventions and tropes are more relevant than ever.
Through Virard’s fuss-free approach to dressing the modern woman, the house is exploring the clichés of white tie attire—a dress code that has only risen in relevance thanks to the 2022 Met Gala’s theme ‘Gilded Glamour’ and shows like Bridgerton, The Great and The Gilded Age.
But on the runway, you won’t find any pretentious pomp or unnecessary decadence, just refined, feminine and unconvoluted couture that plays on the codes of the 30s—whether this be the 1830s or 1930s is up to you.
Continuing the dialogue between past and present—a ubiquitous motif for the house—Chanel transports us to a almost fever-dream big top, where models emerge from giant wooden animals like traveling gypsies.
The collection is saturated with double breasted pelisse-esque jackets, tuxedo shirts, bow ties, tailcoats, top hats and white gloves, signalling that the vibe shift has indeed reached Chanel’s ateliers. Viard is encouraging us to dress up and go out, welcoming us into this almost surrealist dream-like era where fantasy and reality intersect.
As per the house’s press release, the inspiration of the set was to transport us to a town square of a village. However, we couldn’t help but think Virad was taking us to the circus.
The opening look set the tone for the proceeding collection, with this scratch-white tailcoat-esque ensemble revealing a pearl and organza mini dress embroidered onto tulle.
Later, we see the proverbial ‘lion tamer’ in a lightweight, woolen tweed set, complete with golden animal motifs embroidered onto the cuffs and bodice of the jacket.
Elsewhere, we see the cunning magician embodied by Jill Kortleve. Her slippery silk ensemble is accented with a midnight-hue cape. Does she see a Chanel .22 in your future?
But if you thought tht Virad was just looking at the houses archive for inspiration, you’d be sadly mistaken. The trending aesthetics of sensual dressing and indie sleaze are still explored at Chanel, just in their own signature style.
Y2K pleated mini skirts are featured prominent throughout and the featuring of doves and swallows make an interestingly-timed appearance considering the 2010s club kid resurgence.
As fashion commentator Mandy Lee pointed out on TikTok, the swallow print was a hallmark in the wardrobes of adheres to the twee aesthetic, so it was only a matter of time before this motif made a comeback.
However for this instance, the look isn’t contrived or banal, rather whimsical and folklorish considering its placement on the bride’s veil.
Here, Chanel is asking us to open up our imaginations to endless possibilities and unlimited potential. A resolve we’re sure we could all use a bit more of in 2023.