Chanel: Camellias amid knickerbocker glory

Coco Chanel would surely have loved this show since her favorite fetish flower, the camellia, appeared on practically every look of a commanding autumn/winter 23/24 collection designed by Virginie Viard for Chanel on Tuesday morning.

Chanel – Fall-Winter2023 – 2024 – Womenswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

All the way to two giant white resin and plaster camellias towering over guests in two custom made auditoriums – making the runway a figure eight.
Opening with a splendid check coat interspersed with camellias, the flower also appearing on a white matelassé clutch. Camellias creeping up the collar of a perfect black rawhide trench; rippling over lace blouses; seemingly growing from black and white sweaters; or dotting twinsets.

The mood was jaunty, spruce, relaxed and quintessentially French chic. From the black patent leather suit – with short bolero jacket and knee length skirt – to the Chanel in capital letters speckled gray wool bouclé jackets worn with knee-high boots stamped with a camellia pattern. At times, the appliqués were rather too much, even faintly farcical, but at least they certainly underlined the message.
Many of the cast wore knickerbockers, an idea apparent in the giant curving video projections that greeted guests as they entered the show inside the Grand Palais Éphémère. Starring Nana Komatsu and shot by Inez & Vinoodh, in a great black and white shoot, where the Japanese actress is seen riding a series of merry go round wooden horses. Adding an English equestrian motif to the whole show.
“I wanted that feeling of stables in the show. And after I saw all the hobby horses I got the idea of all the short pants in the show. But honestly, it’s really all about teamwork at Chanel, from finding fabrics and creating the clothes, to staging the show, to Inez & Vinoodh’s shoot,” explained the agreeably modest Viard backstage after the show. 

Chanel – Fall-Winter2023 – 2024 – Womenswear – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

Inside, the setting was all black, and the music felt like you were in a techno club with a first rate DJ at 1PM. Leave it to sound architect Michel Gaubert to create the ideal driving music for this fast paced show. Editing and looping a still unreleased track by Irish singer Roisín Murphy with DJ Koze, and French Kiss by Lil Louis. 
All accessorized with fine jewelry, from a gold choker with a camellia center to camellia earrings, brooches and buckles. While for evening, all sorts of smart asymmetrical pants and skirts, metallic silk and lace tops and Power Pop cocktails with a lot of pink.
“A little bit of London, and all of its spirit. I’m always inspired by London,” concluded Viard.
With Paris engulfed in the latest transport strike, metros closed, streets clogged with traffic, a huge flotilla of Maybachs and Mercedes ferried the editors, critics, VICs and proper stars to the show. And, in another example of how Chanel positions itself above all other brands, there was barely an influencer in sight. 
Post show, Virginie was showered with compliments by Charlotte Casiraghi and Patty Smith, emerging from a front row boasting Penelope Cruz, Zoe Saldana, Whitney Peak, Liu Wen, Caroline de Maigret and Park Seo Joon.
“I don’t go to many shows, but this felt like a very special one. There was so much to admire. And I loved one girl’s hair in an opening look. So, I think it is time I cut my hair,” laughed Smith, as she huddled with Viard.

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