Virginie Viard evoked a picture of an easy-living French vacation—a casual summer walk around a Chanel wardrobe, lightly inspired (more later) by the Villa Noailles in the south of France. The point is this: Viard’s Chanel is much more centered on her sense of a young woman’s lived experience than themed. This collection had a relaxed look from the start, all flat sandals, slouchy tweed caftans, bathing suits with caped faux beach-blanket cover-ups, and all kinds of elaborately elevated pajama-y things and denims to follow.
Every look came with a pile-on of accessories: sunglasses, strands of pearls worn as necklaces or belts, cuffs and multiple fine gold chains. It was a wonder all of this didn’t come off as ’80s excess, as Karl Lagerfeld famously played it. The difference with Viard’s take on jewelry is to make it fine, almost skimpy—closer to the way that girls today wear ‘personal’ talismans and souvenirs as keepsakes.
A hundred years ago Gabrielle Chanel was living in another era and moving in very different circles, but she was the one who first set the fashion for mixing up cheap costume jewelry with ‘real.’ It’s a rule: all roads at Chanel lead back to Coco.
Which brings us to the 1920s avant-garde culture and friendship group Gabrielle Chanel shared with Charles and Marie-Laure Noailles, the wealthy art patrons who commissioned Robert Mallet-Stevens to build their early modernist Villa Noailles at Hyeres in 1923. Marie-Laure was a client of Chanel’s couture house. An exhibition devoted to this collector of arts, crafts and epoch-making designers is part of the centenary celebrations which are in full swing at the Villa. The house at Hyeres has long been converted into a center for contemporary art festivals. For almost a decade, Chanel has been the main sponsor of the Hyeres International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Accessories. Karl Lagerfeld became its artistic director in 2015, while Viard, who was then his right-hand, chaired that year’s round of the festival’s fashion jury for its prize for emerging designers.
It was surely Viard’s affectionate salute to Lagerfeld’s passion for photography that made her dot Chanel camera bags among the plethora of accessories—he once shot a photoessay on the Villa. Its Cubist gardens inspired Viard’s checkerboard patchwork patterns and the geometrically stepped hemlines on pencil skirts.
A triangular cut-out Deco-era reference winked from the necklace Gigi Hadid was wearing as she walked in a black lamé wide-legged pajama suit. It was a little bit 1920s to the eyes of fashion historians, but also very simply of the now.
This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.