Held on the bank of the Seine, Chanel’s fall-winter 2023 couture show was an ode to the Parisienne. Below, BritishVogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen shares his key takeaways from the show.
The show took place on the bank of the Seine
This season’s haute couture shows have painted something of a contrast to current events in the suburbs of Paris and around France. Riots and protests against the police have filled the news, but in the touristy summertime atmosphere of central Paris, it’s easy to forget what’s been going on around the corner. Presented on the quayside of the Seine adjacent to the Pont des Invalides—with the Eiffel Tower as backdrop—the Chanel show served as a reminder of Parisian culture as we normally know it.
It was dedicated to the Parisienne
Walking down to the Seine, guests were met by the city’s trademark bouquinistes and cravats rouges handing out Chanel folders with pictures of Vanessa Paradis on them. The singer played muse to a collection dedicated to the Parisienne so close to the heart of the house. “All over the world, by opposition or imitation, [the Parisienne] sets an example that nourishes others. Through cinema, literature, and music, her allure travels from collection to collection,” the show notes read. On the runway, the Parisienne took global form, represented by the likes of Mona Tougaard and Amelia Gray.
It was about the contrasts of Parisian dressing
Virginie Viard focused on the contrasts that make up the Parisienne. “If we’re in Paris—and this time we’re in Paris itself, on the quayside—the street and the colourful paving stones call for both sophistication and simplicity,” she said. “Playing with opposites and contrasts, with nonchalance and elegance, is like standing on a line between strength and delicacy, which, at Chanel, is what we call allure.” Viard expressed that spirit in a collection that collaged a bourgeois silhouette with masculine lines, and amplified the Chanel canvas in a wealth of textures, surface decoration and vibrant colors.
There were fruit baskets and a dog
Increasing the Parisian postcard levels, exit four paired her red basket-woven blazer and pinstripe trousers with a large, black and extremely well-groomed dog, while other looks were styled with fruit and flower baskets—a nod, we were informed, to the favorite accessory of the ’70s Parisienne—which eventually morphed into highly textural and three-dimensional floral embroideries on dresses and tops. The romance culminated in tiered ruffle tops and diaphanous blouses that epitomized the wholesome side to the Parisian wardrobe.
It featured a French soundtrack
“Handing down emotions, bringing the most unlikely elements together, doing things your own way, just dreaming,” Viard mused of her collection. With a cute and uplifting French soundtrack by Françoise Hardy (“VIP”) and Elton John and France Gall (“Donner Pour Donner”), the Chanel experience was a love letter to the French capital and its mentality, and a demonstration of the house’s intrinsic Parisian genes. Walking out along the Seine, you couldn’t help but wonder what came first… the Parisienne or Chanel?
This article was originally published on British Vogue.
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