Gabrielle Chanel lived on the second floor of a building near Place Vendôme, at 31 Rue Cambon, in Paris. The ground floor was occupied by the boutique, while a grand staircase lined with mirrors led to her apartment, an intimate realm filled with treasures. A pair of rock crystal deers, bronze lions on a marble console, a bergère armchair, and a mirror with eagle wings that seemed ready to take flight. Gabrielle’s home was a true Parisian treasure where every element had a deep meaning, spoke of her and her passions. The lion in particular, her zodiac sign, was always her symbol that accompanied her throughout her life. She loved to mention it everywhere, as a clasp on her handbags, as an ornament in her room, and then it became the name of two jewelry collections. The Haute Couture Spring 2023 collection starts right inside the apartment: it is inspired by Virginie Viard’s repurposed mythical animal sculptures, keeping their elegance and majesty intact. The designer got right into the heart of the theme, creating a refined and fun runway show: models enter the catwalk surrounded by huge mobile animal sculptures. The collection stands out between the image of a horse and obviously that of a lion, revealing itself to be spontaneous and at the same time youthful and accessible.
“The Chanel dress borrows his codes from the parade and spectacles’ female uniform. Top hat, bow tie, white gloves, laced boots, satin capes, plated skirt,
double-breasted jackets and paillettes.”
The collection opens with a short trapeze coat, paired with a loafer worn without stockings and a top hat. For the upcoming Couture season, the Chanel dress borrows codes from women’s uniforms at both fashion shows and street shows. Tweed, the symbol of the French Maison, is reintroduced in the first part of the show on different garments and in different shades: mini skirts and shorts with matching jackets, over-the-knee coats and crew-neck dresses worn with bow ties are combined with long white gloves that fuel the proposal’s elegance and class. Gabrielle Chanel’s animals are embroidered on some of the dresses, cats, rabbits and swallows share the limelight with deers, fawns and other figures typical of the apartment at Rue Cambon. Long dresses in the name of lightness and refinement are made of silk tulle and lace, entirely studded with elegant embroidery of small flowers and sequins to give light to the garment. From transparencies and light shades, the palette is made darker by black dresses with hints of pink and pastel yellow. The show ends with a return to the color white: voluminous dresses with flounces and ruffles are paired with gold accessories, such as a necklace representing the head of a deer and worn with a lace-up ankle boot, in variations of white and gold with a black patent leather toe, recalling the world of majorettes. From a hidden door in the elephant comes out a bride, who wearing a little white dress entirely covered with embroidered swallows and a black bow tie, closes the collection by surprising and charming the audience.
“I’ve asked to reinterpretate the bestiary of the Gabrielle Chanel apartment. The whole universe of the embroidery collection is oriented to the animal world.”
The wood and paper animals that animate the catwalk at the Grand Palais Éphémère are created by Xavier Veilhan, who is collaborating for the third time with the Maison: the audience is completely transported into a fantasy world similar to a fairytale, where models emerge from hidden spaces within the sculptures. Between the unmistakable tweed, transparencies and sophisticated embroidery, Virginie Viard brings back images and figures typical of Gabrielle Coco Chanel in a completely new and contemporary form, also making the couture collection fun and accessible to a younger audience.