MANIFESTO

#63

CHANGE OF SPACE

Chanel Radieuse

2024.05.03

Text by Francesca Fontanesi

Immersed in Chanel’s abyss, Virginie Viard’s Cruise collection takes the form of an underwater dream. On the roof of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse, architectural designs blend with marine motifs.

The horizon opens up to a powerful coastal scene: leaden sky, impetuous waters. The diving hoods with press studs become part of the Maison’s repertoire, along with the Chanel suits in anise-green, or with collars on dresses reminiscent of the Roaring Sixties. Virginie Viard transforms her Cruise collection into an underwater dream: embroideries that outline small fish, fishing nets, shells, and mollusks that punctuate dresses, suit jackets, vests, faille blouses, t-shirts, and little tops. Meanwhile, resurfacing, silvery reflections from the sun, ripples and undulations bring back memories of summer months spent by the pool. They appear on neoprene-like jerseys, tweeds, and sequinned jackets, while other tweeds and jerseys pick up the colors, grid patterns, or geometric shapes of the facades of surrounding habitats – nothing less than the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille. Column dresses, tunics, and embroidered pockets. In addition to its double C buttons, the collection redefines the classic traits of sportswear, offering its own version in fish-printed chiffon. Kangaroo pockets appear on sleeveless checkered dresses with a hood; Bermuda shorts are trimmed with embroidered braids, while tweed cycling shorts and oversized jackets complete a collection that embraces the fluid dynamics of movement. The same wind of freedom blows over a white flounced skirt and a floral-embroidered sheath dress. Swimwear is also on the agenda according to Virginie. Panties, slips, and side-opening dresses; the collection is in a summery mood, as demonstrated by honeycomb fabric skirts, petticoats, and bodices in ivory ladder lace, and patchwork lace in English crochet. The runway show took place on the roof terrace of Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse, a housing complex inaugurated in 1952 and become a symbol of a new way of living and seeing architecture, a utopian living machine, whose interiors were designed by Charlotte Perriand.

“The sun, architecture, music and dance: Marseille also has a very strong sense of freedom. I was inspired by the codes of lifestyle, of everyday life and by all the things that invite movement”.

– Virginie Viard

“The arrival of Chanel in a place like this is a way to discover or rediscover the creative energy, which here is everywhere”.

– Bruno Pavlovsky

Virginie Viard works on sleek and elongated silhouettes, crowned with gold and silver accessories – star-shaped earrings, anchor-shaped, pearls, and double C pendants, overlapping bracelets, golden chains reminiscent of compasses and their cases – laden with a flavor of the twenties. The chalky pastels, the cement grays, and the grid patterns of architecture creep into the checkered designs in tweed, blending with the Maison’s desired plays of light on marine tropes like fishnet mesh tops, diagonal waves along skirts, and gold threads resting on lightweight fabrics. A gray sweatshirt peeks out from under a bright green jacket, while on the feet, among the ballet shoes, a pair of elegant black slippers take the stage. Footwear includes sponge flip-flops with platform soles, accompanied by pea coats in white or black and patent leather shoes that pay homage to men’s wear. But this collection plays primarily with layering: collars peek out from shirts, classic French cuffs are worn over or under dresses, pure immaculate bralettes emerge from bustiers. A little black dress is revisited in this collection with a jersey bustier with straps and in the top part of a swimsuit embroidered with small flowers. Quilted handbags bring back the colors of the Mediterranean scrubland. Around printed ruffles and delicate lace patchwork dresses, the waves crash against the cliffs of Marseille. If the city is multicultural to its core – unlike the capital, where multiculturalism is only glimpsed in the center – Chanel is a cultural patron, capable of interpreting the role of an almost national ambassador for modern French society. With this collection, the symbols of the Maison infiltrate the fabric of contemporary daily life, offering a collection that lives up to expectations.

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