The best outfit to deal with a pandemic in? Try a bouclé suit, two-tone kitten heels and a handbag with a chain strap with a double C-logo.
Contrary to all business forecasts, Chanel emerges almost unscathed from two challenging years of retail. Revenue at the luxury brand grew in double digits in the first six months of 2021, the most recent period for which earnings have been announced, and the house expects to return to the 2019 level of profitability soon. Strong demand has led to conspicuous price increases, with some classic handbag styles now priced at 40% more than in the first months of 2020. In troubled times, a Chanel handbag seems to be the gold bars of fashion.
The late Karl Lagerfeld, who loved a grand party and featured rocket launches and surprise concerts in his shows, would surely have made this year’s first Chanel catwalk a showstopper with enough action sequences and inside joke Easter eggs to fill a Marvel movie. But Virginie Viard, who took over at Chanel three years ago, designs fashion rather than fashion shows.
The elegant, minimalist show set was created by French artist Xavier Veilhan using plywood aisles and inflatable benches. A catwalk with rocket sand nodded to racetracks while the bumpy hills for spectators were, said a spokesman for Chanel, inspired by mini golf courses. A few graphic metal sculptures rotated silently, like wagon wheels or stately spindles. Guests were required to show proof of vaccination and a negative antigen result on entry, with N95 masks a mandatory dress code and social distance observed on the benches.
The show began with Chanel Ambassador Charlotte Casiraghi making a round of space on horseback, marking the second time that Viard has shown a horse in one of her shows. Viard quietly moves his Chanel closer to Coco’s extra elegance, albeit with a dose of Lagerfeld’s 1980s pompousness for fun. Not only was Coco Chanel an avid rider who owned a racehorse, Romantica, she was also a pioneer in freeing female riders from troublesome riding skirts.
In the 1920s, Chanel designed her own breeches, based on those worn by men but adapted to flatter her shape. She styled her riding breeches and riding boots with a white shirt and tailored wool vest for a modern, elegant look, which helped set a new trend. These chunks of Coco Chanel’s spirit and energy are for Viards Chanel shows what showbiz scenery was for Lagerfelds.
When the models appeared, the first six outfits featured pants instead of the traditional skirts. A simple navy blue tweed pantsuit came first, followed by a more elegant look on the same look with silver edging and balloon-shaped pants. Each look was a little more advanced than the last, but in subtle graduations. There was a jazzy caramel tweed, followed by a jacket worn with feather pants, and then a lavender jacket paired with white culottes with laser embroidery.
Two-tone Mary Jane shoes and simple dance dresses with wide straps gave the evening outfit a 1920s vibe. Even the bride who closed the show according to the haute couture tradition looked relaxed, in a loose dress and without veil. Viard highlighted as a key piece a long dress completely embroidered by the venerable Lesage studio with “constructivist camellias” in black, white and coral pearls, which she described as “references [which] of course also belongs to Gabrielle Chanel. It’s like a conversation that crosses time. ”