The Chanel dream factory delivered another reverie on Tuesday, a hyper stylish show staged on the banks of the Seine, with the Eiffel Tower and Bateaux Mouches as the distant backdrop.
What young lady wouldn’t want to march along the Seine in a hazy morning light carrying a small fruit basket of flowers and looking very beautiful? Wicker baskets that riffed on the optimism of France in the seventies, light years from the current unrest.
The Fourth of July might be America’s biggest celebration, but this show was a French fete with a capital F. From the opening look, worn by Chanel’s brainy French ambassador Caroline de Maigret in an expertly flared double-breasted coat and long pants. Italian super supe Vittoria Ceretti followed looking stunning in a speckled anthracite boucle redingote and skirt with a semi-sheer black blouse – like a movie star en route to a romantic tryst in St Germain.
The runway cobblestones were painted in a pink and violet pattern, colors also used in elongated rose-blossom wool dusters; diagonal bubble gum striped artists blouses, decorated purple tank tops or an artist’s muse peasant smock. Even the buttons of pants suits, jackets and tunics were rose-hued.
While evening looks in this Fall/Winter 2023/24 collection were strikingly youthful and streamline, often finished with delicate floral and graphic motifs, as Viard put the Chanel atelier through its paces.
“Playing with opposites and contrasts, with nonchalance and elegance, is like standing on a line between strength and delicacy, which, at Chanel, is what we call allure,” explained the house’s creative director Virginie Viard in her program.
Guests entered the show down a ramp and past several bouquinistes, the small booksellers that line the Seine. Among all the yellowing novels and histories of ‘Les Années Folles’ or the 1920s, these stands also carried pretty sketches of de Maigret and other models.
All very romantic, insouciant, very Parisian and supremely relaxed. One of the cast even walked with her long-haired Labrador, named Opium, the pet of Viard’s sister. At the finale, Virginie took a long languid bow to much applause, dressed in black pants and a T-Shirt, looking supremely self-confident.
Now it takes a lot of clout to close down 300 yards of the Seine and move out all the tourist cruise boats, but that’s the sort of power Chanel has in France. Paris respects its great fashion houses so much that it grants them all sorts of special treatment, as well it should.
Like many other great brands, after showing in-doors for many years, Chanel has moved outside, in part of a major trend. On Sunday, Alaïa held its ready-to-wear show on top of Solferino, a millennium era walking bridge, while Kenzo and Louis Vuitton both were granted permission to hold their men’s shows in June on two bridges – Passerelle Debilly and Pont Neuf, respectively.
At Chanel’s finale, the models walked in small groups, or in couples, arms locked together or hand in hand, as small speed boats went by on the Seine. Sisterly love elegantly expressed.
All couture shows end with la mariée, a bride in white. So, it says something about the growing power of China and its giant Asian market when la mariée in Chanel is an Asian beauty – Shin Hyun-ji of Korea. Wearing a marvelous white organza dress with fabric petals for a neckline, a quintessentially French look, from the most quintessentially Parisian fashion house.
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