Green tweed, diamonds and cowboy boots

Chanel’s fall-winter 2022/23 haute couture show was held last July in a setting designed by artist Xavier Veilhan and a music composed by Sébastien Tellier. Virginie Viard, Chanel’s artistic director, designed a collection that evokes all the codes of the house, but with a twist. Isabelle Cerboneschi, Paris

Haute couture week, held in Paris in July, was one of the first post-Covid fashion weeks where the guests were back on their rows and the models on the catwalk. Some designers decided to express the full extent of their imaginary world, while others had a go at the principle of reality. The queen in this field is Virginie Viard, the artistic director of Chanel. “I like to break the graphic approach with a natural look. The clothes remain light, feminine, designed to be worn. I can’t see myself doing anything else,” she says of the fall-winter 2022/23 haute couture collection.

The first look of the show, held at the Etrier de Paris in a geometric Op-Art set by Xavier Veilhan with a music by Sébastien Tellier, was a flamboyant grass green tweed suit. Like a license to get on and go.

Chanel haute couture automne hiver 2022-23 Fall-Winter 22-23 look 1 Copyright Chanel

Even if the 44 looks were a perfect demonstration of the different craftsmanship mastered by the house, such as this white dress set with hand-painted feathers that seemed to fly away as the model walked, even if this collection was an affirmation of all the codes of the house, such as the tweed suits, it carried a clearly stated intention: that of responding to the needs and desires of haute couture clients. A form of dreamlike pragmatism ran through the entire show like a precious thread. But with a twist: the models, whether in tweed suits or evening gowns, were mostly wearing cowboy boots.

“In this new collection, there are suits, long dresses like Mademoiselle Chanel designed in the 1930s, close to the body, even if they are quite thick, and pleated dresses, especially the wedding dress. There is also lace, inlaid, reworked, not embroidered but repainted. The palette consists of bright green, khaki, beige, pink, lots of black and silver,” notes Virginie Viard. This collection was also reminiscent of the black dress in chiffon and lace that Gabrielle Chanel wore in her suite at the Ritz in 1937, posing for Harper’s Bazaar. This difficult inter-war period is not so far from our own…

Of the 44 passages in the show, 14 were accessorised with jewels from the 1932 collection. This suite of 81 jewels is a tribute to the first high jewellery collection called “Bijoux de Diamants” created in 1932 by the couturier with the artistic help of Paul Iribe, who shared her life at the time. Virginie Viard chose to use a few necklaces as “celestial elements that blend with the pleats”.

The artistic director is writing a gentle continuation of Chanel’s history, without any thunderous bias. Each of the looks could be an evocation of a certain past, while meeting the needs of today. Instead of revolution, Virginie Viard prefers evolution and customers follow her. According to Fashion Network, Chanel’s revenues would have increased by almost 50% by 2021 to $15.6 billion.

To close the show, the usual wedding dress was worn by model Jill Kortleve, aka Jilla Tequila. The 25-year-old Dutch supermodel, who stands at 5’7″ and is a size 40, is unusual in the fashion world, even though in recent years fashion houses have been trying to be more inclusive. Chanel had already started the movement during the 2011 Cruise fashion show in Saint-Tropez, by having the magnificent Crystal Renn proudly displaying her size 44. A very nice message…