The Scent of Camellia. Chanel AW23

At Chanel, Virginie Viard did her usual thing: a spontaneous, instinctual take on the Chanel wardrobe. For autumn-winter 2023 season, it was sprinkled with silk, white camellias – the brand’s famous signifiers. Viard had even organized a giant symbolic white camellia as a set, and had a real one placed on every guest’s seat. “The camellia is more than a theme, it’s an eternal code of the house,” she said in her press release. “I find it reassuring and familiar, I like its softness and its strength.” A taste for propagating a contemporary realness around Chanel’s enviable Frenchness is more Viard’s thing. Like so many others this season, she opened with variations on black, white and gray. From the minutest of embroideries to the button-shapes to the big, fuzzy angora pattern on a sweater, and swinging on multiple chain-bags, the aforementioned flowers were absolutely everywhere. The formalities of the Chanel canon are constantly open to reinterpretation, as Karl Lagerfeld supremely taught. While staying within the guardrails of Chanel’s femininity and decorativeness, his former first assistant and successor has added her own dash of quirkiness to the mix – not always with success. Viard didn’t make a big play for evening—the finale was of camellia-print silk dresses, layered over sweaters and longjohns. This was more a depiction of what Parisian style might mean as worn by women on the street. It was good to see Viard extending her sense of reality to including mid-size models in that.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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