The show was an ode to fashion shows
When the pandemic triggered the great debate about the future of fashion weeks, Chanel stood its ground. For a house synonymous with epic show experiences, nothing could replace the magic of the seasonal defile: the ceremonious gathering of the industry travelling in from near and far, the hollowed runway and its prophetic energy, and the history that gives it so much soul. ‘I used to love the sound of flashbulbs going off at the shows in the ’80s, when the models were on a raised runway’, Virginie Viard recalled in her show notes. ‘I wanted to recapture that emotion’.
It evoked the late ’80s and early ’90s
In place of the Grand Palais, which is closed due to refurbishment, Chanel erected a ‘Grand Palais Éphémère’ on Place Joffre, a temporary home for its show. Inside, a nostalgically raised runway stretched towards a picture of the model Vivienne Rohner holding a camera to her face, the three – dimensional letter of Chanel’s logo placed in front of her as at old – school shows. As the lights dimmed, photographers rushed to the side of the runway like was 1989 again. Why? ‘Because fashion is about clothes, models and photographers’, Viard asserted.
Virginie Viard wanted to pay homage to fashion photographers
‘Today, I call upon photographers. I love the way that they see Chanel. It supports and inspires me’, Viard said. Honouring that sentiment, Inez and Vinoodh had shot a series of portraits festuring Lily – Rose Deep, Alma Jodorowsky, Jennie, Rebecca Dayan, and Quannah Chasinghorse – Potts all holding cameras. ‘it’s a magical object and a sexy gesture, which evokes so many memories’, Viard noted. She presented her collection like a show in the late ’80s, models twirling mid – walk and posing up a storm for the photographers lining the raised runway. George Michael’s ‘Freedom! ’90’ even played at the end.
Viard did her take on the new sexy
Viard opened the show with a string of bathing suits, bikinis, cycling shorts and sporty miniskirts, joining the ‘undressed’ conversation that’s been going on between designers this season. Chanel isn’t shy of #hotgirlsummer, although there was a maturity to these clothes that rendered the idea from a politer perspective – even the midriff – bearing wet – look dresses Viard sent out next. Little Chanel suits captured the same spirit, the skirt replaced with a mini short and a matching crop top; the jacket transformed into a slender cardigan with a sculpted shoulder. She continued sculpting those shoulders throughout the collection, in shapes that felt decidedly appropriate for the era her set conveyed. Viard closed the show with a series of butterfly prints on floaty dresses made for a sashay down the runway.
It was very Viard
Whether it was designed like that or not, the nostalgic premise of the show imbued the collection with an early ’90s spirit that felt natural for Viard. Since she took the reins at Chanel, her expressions have taken many different forms but all shared a retro disposition undoubtedly rooted in her formative years: the ’80s and their wake, and the pure glamour and wholesome sense of chicness that defined the runway back then. It’s a smiley, slightly cheeky and quaint approach to Chanel, which hails the virtues of an era in fashion that firmly established the mechanics of the industry today. Fashion without a show, you might say, is like religion without a church.