Chanel’s fall-winter 2023 show was inspired by the camellia flower this season, symbolizing both strength and softness. See Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen’s key takeaways from the ground in Paris.
It was a tribute to the camellia
Chanel’s emblematic camellia flower was given superstar status in Virginie Viard’s show this season. Inside the structure on Place Joffre, where the maison’s shows are held while the Grand Palais undergoes refurbishment, two circular runways surrounded enormous camellia sculptures. As the show started, a film directed by Inez & Vinoodh, starring the actress Nana Komatsu on a merry-go-round, was projected onto the flowers. If those ideas vaguely reflected a theme of circularity, Viard’s collection expressed it in eclecticism: the idea that the Chanel aesthetic is so strong that you can apply it to any silhouette, garment, texture or technique… et voilà, it says Chanel.
It was kind of 1960s
“The camellia is more than a theme, it’s an eternal code of the house. I find it reassuring and familiar. I like its softness and its strength,” Viard said of her source of inspiration. The flower adorned the lapels of a leather coat that opened the show, setting the tone for a collection that cut contrasts between the hard and the soft. This continued in a coat and a skirt suit made from patent leather imbued with a certain kicky 1960s spirit. “An English vibe,” as Viard put it.
Viard went all out on Bermuda shorts
Set to a funky soundtrack—“Tuesday Maybe” by Way Out West—the collection explored a quirky silhouette centered around what Viard called “Bermuda shorts suits”. They appeared in many shapes and sizes, sometimes worn eccentrically over white lace tights, which also appeared overlaid with black lace cycling shorts. The silhouette had a childlike quality about it, amplified by the presence of rompers and mameluke details.
It made a case for handkerchief hems
Viard’s eclecticism reached a new high with the introduction of pompoms on knitwear and dresses in candy floss plume and circular patterns. It added to the childlike spirit of the collection, a feeling mirrored in asymmetrical lines that evolved into handkerchief-hemmed jackets and dresses. Viard summed up the collection’s details as “real and charming”.
The camellia was turned into accessories
Viard adapted her camellia flower into bowling ball-shaped bags with leaf motifs and black patent leather bags shaped as 3D camellias. Black leather boots were printed with a pattern that interwove the camellia and Chanel’s double C, while the toe of ladylike sling-backs were adorned with the classic white camellia.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.