Chanel‘s spring-summer 2022 couture collection was as predictable as Virginie Viard‘s description of it: “it’s a summer collection, so it’s very fresh, even with a lot of embroideries. I was inspired by the ’20s a little – the feathers, the fringe.” Well, nothing ground-breaking – this collection isn’t for the ones who seek haute-novelty. To set the scene, Viard reached out to the artist Xavier Veilhan whom she met at the home of their mutual friend, musician Sébastien Tellier. “I always wanted to work with him because he did something for Chanel [fine] jewelry 15 years ago in Place Vendome, a great installation,” Viard said. “I love his work and I needed someone to work with for the sets – the way Karl did. Me, I can’t do that! He loves Constructivism, that kind of thing which is so Karl!” she continued. “In fact, I found some notes from Karl in Rodchenko and Malevich books that he always gave me – so many books and documents with notes on details that could be used for embroidery and so on. It was always Constructivist with Karl!” Veilhan, who was chosen to represent France in the 2017 Venice Biennale, drew on this century-old, but still revolutionary period in art, for his Chanel set, with its giant spinning discs and sandy walkways, crafted from sustainable plywood and matting in his preferred (and appropriately Chanel) palette of black, white, and beige. The set he created springs from this thought, inspired by 1920s World Fairs and artists like Sonia and Robert Delaunay. The makeup was also inspired by the pre-war era’s avant garde creatives, although the dark circles around some of the models’ eyes looked rather unfortunate. “I like the classic Chanel,” added Veilhan, “and I like sport and it’s funny to think that the Chanel tailleur is something you can wear for playing golf, or riding a horse.” To prove his point, the show opened with Monaco’s Princess Charlotte, dressed in a Chanel jacket, riding the beautiful eight year old Spanish bay horse Kuskus, first in an elegant “collected walk,” then a canter. What about the actual fashion? Sadly, it was the biggest downer of the entire event. That 1920s and ’30s Gatsby mood that Viard discussed was manifested in filmy chiffon and organza dresses with uneven hems, and trailing scarf panels that drifted from the shoulder. Satin evening dresses seemed to be suspended from necklaces and were draped to reveal the back, and tiny beaded gilets could be slipped on to amplify the glamour quotient. All of it looked pretty… but pretty is kind of boring, right?
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.