In a very sparse set of Paris's world renowned and all too familiar fashion setting of the Grand Palais, a gargantuan CHANEL sign took to the stage. Who needs the waving a winding hills of Hollywood's hill top sign when you can bring the iconic essence of Santa Monica to Paris?
It's strange to have an empty fashion show. But with COVID looming ever strongly in our presence, no other option could be made... the show MUST CARRY ON! And so, the new creative director (RIP Karl) Virginie Viard took some time it seems to try and help us escape into a fictional fantasy... one where a sprinkling of razzle-dazzle could be felt from afar. And so a collection intertwining Parisian cool with a laid-back, Starbucks-order-girl L.A. style was birthed.
Back in time for a moment...
The relationship between CHANEL and actresses is as obvious as Dita Von Teese's beauty mark. One only has to look longingly as the hopefully-soon-to-be-opening exhibition “Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto” at Paris’s dedicated fashion museum the Palais Galliera to see an integration spanning the numerousChanel garments worn both in the private lives AND on-screen by some of the 20th century’s fabled actresses... including Grace Kelly, Delphine Seyrig, and Jeanne Moreau. And obviously: Marilyn Monroe, who when asked what she wore in bed famously answered “Chanel No. 5.”
A little bit about Coco...
You know the name, but do you know the woman?! Coco Chanel actually began her career as a performer singing saucy music hall songs, which is where her arduous passion for Hollywood glamour truly began to resonate and pulsate through her veins. When things didn't go according to plan, she switched from being in front of the camera... to behind it, and famously morphed, shaped and shifted existing wannabe starlets into the heroines they came to be.
The designer, for instance, transformed Romy Schneider into a baby-faced version of herself, and Luchino Visconti immortalized Schneider’s new look in his 1962 short movie Boccaccio 70. Chanel herself is even said to have found the new stage name for the Nouvelle Vague actress Anna Karina (née Hanne Karin Bayer). Viard, who has all these references at her fingertips, is also drawn to femme fatale Jeanne Moreau in Louis Malle’s 1958 Elevator to the Gallows, and she looked to some on-screen Chanel moments in her collection. Which I am about to introduce you to...
A flurry of models took to an expansive, clinically white setting, where whispers of Alain Resnais’s highly stylized 1962 opus Last Year at Marienbad fluttered by in black chiffon 1920s skirts and capes, worn with bead-frosted singlets. A field of gray blossoms delicately swanned betwixt garments with their signature tailored perfection, boldly pronounced and contrasted by Mean Girls-esque hot pink suits and cardigans. But Viard also used that satin print for the jumpsuits that indeed JUMPED onto the scene, essentially working to evoke the real life wardrobes of contemporary actresses - to bring us back to the present day and not be TOO vintage (if such a thing exists!).
The mix of opaque with geometric print, robust tweed, verging on kitschy accessories made for a truly modernist mix of a cool and quirky Parisian girl - whilst also maintaining and painting a portrait of a new kind of chic. A wearable style that any age and any women can adorn and adore to become. This meant big-shouldered 1980s-looking Chanel suit jackets worn with petal pushers or stone-washed denim jeans or tiny miniskirts in candy pink or sky blue.
Or perhaps that over-scaled pale pink cardigan I mentioned earlier, piped like a Liquorice All Sorts and worn as a coat dress with a necklace that seemed assembled from cherished charms (and one of the metal linked C motif tiara headbands). Candy California Girls galore, it would seem. A walking confectionary box of feminine delights.
Alongside those romantic black and white movie prints were overscale fluoro patterns printed on scarf silk that resembled graffiti but turned out on closer inspection to suggest neon-lit billboards advertising the latest epic by Coco or Chanel. There were even T-shirts with the old-fashioned countdown to a movie permanently frozen at five seconds.
A final word
The show, though not observed from a far more preferable mask-free front-row, felt like watching your very cool aunt or an extremely sassy, confident teenager. There were profound polarities throughout the collection, which made for something - I hate to say it so blasé-ey - but no other word suffices: it was just very cool. Not quite grandma, not quite air brain teen. The models created an aura of the hot girl you want to be friends with in high school because she's classy and cultured, but badass and boujie. And with that said, let's be honest: who doesn’t secretly want to be Regina George? 😉
Thank you to CHANEL for suppling the photographs for this article
Love Bucci x