Many have tried to decode director Alain Resnais’s beguiling 1961 movie, “L’Année Dernière à Marienbad“. The nouvelle vague classic features a couple who may (or may not) know each other, and who may (or may not) have been in some kind of relationship with each other. They move through a black and white dreamscape of ornate gardens and grand staircases, where time seems to have no meaning and words don’t seem to matter a whole lot either. Still, female lead Delphine Seyrig looks utterly fabulous as she exists in this semi-somnambulistic state, thanks to some of her costumes having been designed by Coco Chanel. What most definitely doesn’t need decoding, however: as Chanel’s Virginie Viard looked at the movie while she was designing spring-summer 2023, it led her to create a very charming collection. Light, nuanced, and with a palpable sense of the here and now, it was Chanel replete with every element and fragment of the house. There were the tweeds, sparkly or ribbon embroidered or adorned with ostrich feathers; the chicest suits, cardigan jackets, and short coatdresses that looked as though they magically weighed next to nothing; boyish knits and teeny tap shorts; and exquisite evening dresses without an iota of fuss. Viard sketched these out in the archetypal black and ivory as well as a heavenly array of pastels, with very few prints, save for those that featured scrolling lines akin to what you might obsessively draw while daydreaming, or black-on-black interlocking logo double-Cs, discreetly repeated over and over again on a softly rippling dress or fluid pajama pants. And to go with all of this: strands and strands of gilded or strass necklaces and drop earrings; smaller versions of the iconic bags; and get-ready-to-be-obsessed, glittery silver house-classic cap-toe slingbacks or grosgrain-bowed crystal booties, which look like the most glamorous (or glam-rock) ankle socks ever. Resnais’s classic wasn’t the only cinematic moment here. Viard had asked Inez and Vinoodh to shoot in Paris a short movie with Kristen Stewart, a kind of homage to Marienbad, as an opener for the show. Stewart leaves a movie theater, wanders the streets of Paris, ascends the famous Rue Cambon Chanel staircase, takes the metro, all the while dressed in the spring collection, including one stunner of a long, sequined rose gold dress. What else should be noted about this collection is that Viard chose to embrace the diversity of female beauty by showing this collection on a whole variety of body types. In a Paris spring show season where that approach has been sadly all but absent, it was a welcome move.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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