Chanel Spring-Summer 2023 Ready-to-Wear
This year, Paris Fashion Week has been on our radar for many reasons — not all positive and not all about fashion — but Chanel continues their legacy of being a brand that is focused on fashion. It has been a season of extremes with either maximalism or minimalism being put forth by designers. Chanel has chosen to take a minimalist approach this Spring-Summer, with a collection that we think is perfection.
French fashion designer Virginie Viard has been the creative director of Chanel since 2019. Throughout her career, she has worked with Karl Lagerfeld at both Chloé and Chanel, where she learned from and collaborated with the designer. After the passing of Lagerfeld, she became the artistic director of the house, showing her perspective on what the classic brand should be. This collection perfectly melds together the past, present and future. With a nod to Gabrielle’s original designs and the modernity of Viard’s, Chanel is giving us a glimpse of what the future of the brand is going to look like.
The Spring-Summer 2023 ready-to-wear collection takes its inspiration from the 1961 film Last Year in Marienbad and imagines it on the Chanel woman, Kristen Stewart. Through this, we are given a collection that is unfussy, chic, sophisticated, timeless and light.
Alain Resnais’ Last Year in Marienbad is an artistic film with variations on the theme of the allure of freedom. With fragments of an imaginary world, the film offers variations on this concept and has become famous for its enigmatic narrative structure and dreamlike nature. This new-wave classic film has both fascinated and confused viewers as there is no certainty of what is happening throughout the film.
Viard shows that she is dedicated to Gabrielle Chanel’s legacy by basing this collection on her designs for the film. The original designs included two-piece suits and chiffon dresses that embodied the dreamlike yet haunting feel of the film with its black-and-white garden setting and seemingly non-existent narrative. The looks enhanced the storytelling of the complex and avante-garde film, with a freeness that is shown throughout the film. For many, the confusing elements of the film provide contrast to the ethereal dreaminess. In this year’s collection, blacks, chiffons, creams and feathers all work together in a way that provides the same feel as the film.
“The films we have seen … those that possess us and those we invent for ourselves, Marienbad, the Nouvelle Vague, the allure according to Gabrielle Chanel, Karl, the night, feathers, sequins, heels … I like it when things get mixed up,” observes Virginie Viard.
Sequins, feathers, boas, rhinestones, sheer fabrics and chiffon worked together in a way that felt effortless and alluring, while the silhouettes felt modern, youthful, boyish and truly inspired by the style of Kristen Stewart. The fit on the models gave off an ease that seems uncharacteristic of fabrics such as tweed, which are classic for the house, yet the ease of layering seen throughout felt both intentional and effortlessly easy.
The collaboration between Kristen Stewart and Virginie Viard is a mutually driven one, with the drive being innate desire.
“It becomes something that has meaning versus something that is just a picture.”
— Kristen Stewart on working with Virginie Viard
Stewart says, “The show genuinely moved me almost to tears, because I felt like I was watching the future. But this felt so intimate. It felt like the girls were so allowed to just be. It’s absolutely new.”
“I look at this collection and I’m, like, the work she’s doing and the art she’s creating is gonna make us all feel better, more honest and more true to ourselves and so free and activated.”
With an array of looks that are not trend-focused, the freedom of movement and ease of the house’s original vision is shown. Gabrielle herself aimed to create clothing that women could live their lives in. This collection is less stuffy and constricted than those of seasons past, while still having an intentional and deliberate feel, thanks to layering and styling that is more youthful than much of what we have previously seen from the fashion house. These were combinations and styles we have yet to see from Viard but are looking forward to seeing more of.
The show itself felt calmer and more serene than many of the Chanel shows we have seen in recent years. Karl Lagerfeld had become known for his theatrical shows, and Viard followed through with this trend in seasons past. With the inspiration for this collection being a film, the seating at the show was cinema-style, in front of a screen, which was both striking and understated at the same time. Celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Jennie, Soo Joo Park, Charlotte Casiraghi and Caroline de Maigret were all in attendance at the show.
Overall, the collection is an effortless collage that works together in a way that only Chanel could conceptualize and execute.