[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybcwFo3vO4s]

The opening scenes of the Inez and Vinoodh-lensed film that unveiled Chanel’s Cruise 2022 collection this evening are shot in moody black and white, with model of the moment Lola Nicon rollicking around Gabrielle Chanel’s newly-restored Parisian apartment. Then, suddenly, everything switches to colour—and models are bathed in white light as they stomp through the magnificent, cavernous white stones of the Carrieres de Lumieres—also known as the Quarries of Light—found in a small town in Provence.

It’s a shift we’ve all spent the last 14 months desperately waiting for. Granted, there are worse places to spend lockdown than the palatial dwellings of 31 rue Cambon—but there wasn’t a single person watching today’s show who wasn’t also dreaming of being suddenly teleported to the South of France. In this sense, Viard’s latest Resort offering couldn’t feel more relevant. The world is cautiously optimistic for a future in which international travel is back on the agenda and, once it is, there are few things we’d rather be wearing than the ’90s-style sheer mini dresses, flowing beach wraps, and crochet knitted capes showed on the runway today.

Inspiration for any Chanel collection inevitably circles back to the house’s enigmatic namesake, and for Cruise ’22 it was no exception. Virginie Viard was particularly inspired by the quintessentially Parisian writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, a friend and long-time collaborator of Coco Chanel’s. Cocteau shot his 1960 film The Testament of Orpheus—the third in his iconic ‘Orphic’ trilogy—in the Carrieres de Lumieres, and the backdrop informed much of Viard’s design process. Stars, a recurring motif in Cocteau’s work, were printed on silk wrap skirts or on the legs of tailored trousers, and an unearthed 1920s sketch by Cocteau of a fringed Chanel dress was finally brought to life in several looks throughout the collection.

Elsewhere, we saw decidedly more modern references. Prim tweed skirt suits were given the grunge treatment courtesy of fishnet stockings and graphic printed tees. A sheer black mini dress covered in ‘C’ motifs was worn over a long-sleeved white shirt (Noughties eat your heart out)—a look that you’re likely to see on every influencer worth their salt come summer. A studded leather suit worn with a lip ring gave a nod to the punk era and paid a poignant homage to long-time Chanel muse Stella Tennant, the late supermodel who balanced aristocratic roots with an unparalleled punk attitude.

Above all, the collection served as a comforting reminder of what we have to look forward to in the coming months. This may very well be the last Chanel show to take place digitally, and the nervous excitement that surrounds the idea of a return to ‘real life’ fashion shows is synonymous with the anxiety-fuelled optimism that shrouds our return to countless other ‘real life’ experiences. Here’s hoping that warm evenings spent in quaint Provencial towns come sooner, rather than later. And that we’ll be wearing patent leather Chanel ankle boots once the time comes.