Some fashion brands are defined by regular—occasionally exhausting—reinvention. For others, their identity is rooted in consistency. Virginie Viard clearly understands that the 113-year-old fashion house she helms, Chanel, falls into the latter category. For the brand’s Fall-Winter 2022/23 Haute Couture show, which showed at the equestrian L’Étrier de Paris centre in the Bois de Boulogne this afternoon, she rallied together a formidable group of ongoing collaborators, including the artist Xavier Veilhan, who created the geometric Art Deco-inspired set, musician Sèbastian Tellier, who created the romantic synthy soundtrack, and house ambassadors Charlotte Casiraghi and Pharrell Williams, who partook in a short film that preceded the runway presentation. “I have imagined [this collection] in the continuity of the previous show, leaving room for experimentation,” Viard explained in the show’s notes. “The group of artists who surround me… allows for this. As does the Haute Couture.”
Chanel is a brand uniquely positioned to excel in haute couture. The brand’s long-time commitment to fine craftsmanship is evident through their Mètiers d’art program, which financially supports local artisans in crafts ranging from embroidery to millinery, tweed to floral decoration. And for the FW’23 couture outing we saw the full power of these workshops on display, from extravagant looks in 1930s silhouettes made of lace hand-painted in resin, to intricate thick tweeds made by Lesage, through to remarkable evening gowns with sequins embroidered in understated geometric patterns. The collection was further elevated with fine jewellery pieces from the brand’s anniversary High Jewellery collection, ‘1932’, which pays homage to the ‘Bijoux de Diamants’ collection Coco Chanel first created 90 years ago. Viard paired the quintessentially Art Deco pieces—including star-shaped plunging necklaces made with dozens of shining white diamonds—with sharp velvet suiting, and soft chiffon gowns because “the celestial elements fit with pleats”.
Viard tapped an eclectic mix of inspirations for this collection, from the aforementioned 1930s—longer-hemmed dress silhouettes evoke the day dresses Mademoiselle Chanel wore in that decade—through the graphic shapes and patterns of the 1970s, an era of which her predecessor, Karl Lagerfeld, was particularly fond. Disparate elements like cowboy boots (a nod to Chanel’s spring 2022 couture collection, which opened with Charlotte Casiraghi riding a horse down the runway), bows (affixed to the back of the head, or tied at the waist of delicate evening gowns in black grosgrain ribbon), and bridalwear (the ubiquitous ‘Chanel bride’ look that close each couture show, this season it was a strapless woven gown worn with an embroidered shawl) blended together deftly, married by Virginie Viard’s greatest asset: her commitment to understated elegance. “The clothes remain light, feminine, designed to be worn,” she explained after the show. “I can’t see myself doing it any other way.”