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Chanel in Hollywood

For its Cruise 2023-24 collection, showcased at the Paramount Studios, Chanel embraced the Hollywood vocabulary with a touch of Parisian allure.

FASHION 19/05/2023
Fifi Abou Dib

In 2024, Paris will be hosting the Olympic Games. Meanwhile, the Palais Galliera, home to the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, is scheduling a retrospective exhibition for June titled “Fashion in Motion” and it will be dedicated to sportswear. On the other side of the globe, famed French fashion house, Chanel unveiled its new Cruise 2023/24 collection in Los Angeles. The iconic Paramount Studios served as the backdrop for Virginie Viard, the former right-hand of Karl Lagerfeld and art director of the fashion house, to present her runway show. While the collection celebrates sports and the Californian lifestyle, it also reveals a cultural connection between the City of Angels and the City of Light.

What would Hollywood be without glamour? What is glamour but the art of illuminating a face in a black and white film? And what is Chanel if not a story of black and white where light astonishingly hangs to shades? The Chanel cruise begins there. In a massive black-and-white basketball court adorned with the brand’s double-C logo at its centre, set against a giant LED screen projecting models training for sports against the backdrop of Sunset Boulevard’s palm trees, the initial pieces on display were sportswear.

Black tweed Chanel strass-studded black running shorts and bra. A one-piece swimsuit with side cutouts adorned with shooting stars. Black leather shorts and a black tank top. Then comes the gilt, heralded by a golden swimsuit with a belt, worn under a sheer black veil dress. From there, everything captures light like the sea under the moon. An abundance of sequins and sautoirs radiates from the petite tweed jackets. The Chanel logo repeats infinitely on new prints. An array of shorts and swimwear celebrates the cult of the body, a quintessential aspect of the Californian lifestyle. Unlike the Lagerfeld era, which favored slender figures, most of the models are athletic, and some have even more voluptuous silhouettes. Gradually, colours emerge. Rainbows, sorbets, shades of pink, and violet reminiscent of Californian sunsets also shimmer with sequins.

Chanel

Fluorescent tones recall the aerobics era popularized by Jane Fonda in the 80’s. The jewellery draws inspiration from the superstitious charms cherished by Coco Chanel: stars, N°5, N°19, lions, and camellias. Sparkling sequined football and basketball leg warmers are worn over boots. Flowing dresses and flared pants bring back the romanticism of the 1970s. This segment pays homage to the films and documentaries shot in LA during these years by the French director Agnès Varda, one of the most representative filmmakers of the French New Wave. Virginie Viard mentioned being inspired by her work.

Copyright, Chanel.

“A burst of vitality is transcribed in a multicoloured palette carefully balanced between the timeless House colours, pastel shades and new flamboyant tones. Beyond the emblematic white and black, there are nuances of pink – so dear to the Artistic Director – as well as gold, evoking cinema’s halcyon age, its empress-like actresses, the bright lights of the projectors that illuminate them and the eternal Californian sunshine.

“This scintillating energy at the heart of the collection is imbued in fabrics, embroideries and prints. It takes a lead role expressed through a range of motifs, from the most geometric to the most figurative: gold squares, black and gold chevrons, disco balls, milkshakes and roller skates in a spirit favoured by Karl Lagerfeld, splendid coconut palms and sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. It also radiates through various accessories where rhinestones, ombré shading and metallic leathers take pride of place”, says the manifesto.

“The idea is to offer a breath of fresh air, a voyage, a light-hearted and happy fantasy,” explains Virginie.

Chanel

Back in October 2020, during Chanel’s Spring-Summer 2021 collection disrupted by the pandemic, the art director had adorned the entrance of the Grand Palais in Paris, the brand’s beloved runway venue, with the letters of Hollywood redesigned in the Chanel font. The backstory is that in the early 1930s, when Coco Chanel was at the height of her fame, she was contacted by producer Samuel Goldwyn to create costumes for films. Coco was convinced to make the trip. She had liberated women and reduced their wardrobes to unprecedented minimalism. From her perfumes to her little black dress, Chanel was all the rage at the time. Goldwyn offered her a lucrative deal, promising a studio and all the necessary resources. However, the uncompromising Coco found Hollywood too eccentric for her taste and declined the contract to protect her image, feeling that she made fashion, not costumes. For Virginie Viard, there was a sequel to imagine in this story. And here it comes to fruition with a vibrant and chic collection that pays a strong tribute to the seventh art.

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