MANIFESTO

#63

CHANGE OF SPACE

Romantic Aisle

2024.01.24

Text by Francesca Fontanesi

Through ultra-light feathers and refined constructions, Chanel unveils the undisputed protagonist of the new Haute Couture collection: the button, a starting point for a craft and visual exploration of the Maison. Masculine figures and body details breathe life into an extremely feminine collection that moves delicately between white tights and pastel bodysuits.

A clear homage to Gabrielle Chanel opened the runway with Margaret Qualley wearing a Pierrot ruffle chiffon collar, accompanied by a cream tweed jacket and a tiered skirt overlaid with a longer tulle skirt.

 

 

Thus unfolds a landscape of light and transparent skirts, long dresses, jumpsuits, and capes adorned with embroideries depicting drapes, small bows, tulle pockets, lace belts, sequins, braids, and flowers. But also white leggings layered under black tulle pants, ruffled dresses, lightweight ecru curly wool coats, and a jacket with faux pockets. Ultra-light feathers and transparencies actually serve as a backdrop to what is the undisputed protagonist of the new Chanel Haute Couture collection presented in Paris: the button. It starts as a small single layer protruding at the waist from a skirt, then transforms into a bolder detail that swells outward and, like jewelry, adds a touch of character to the allure of the French Maison. Virginie Viard plays with these visual illusions, overlaying transparent pants on opaque white stockings to simulate coverage and adding a translucent black panel under the hem of a miniskirt to evoke a shadow. The looks stand out from each other thanks to the construction of different guiding pieces, such as a black knee-length coat with a fitted waist paired with a white tutu-cut miniskirt; a long black and white tweed jacket over a long white tulle dress with bubble sleeves; a transparent lace dress with blue sequins over a cream-colored skirt, without ever making it seem possible to lose sight of the collection as a whole.

“I have tried to bring together the power and finesse of bodies and clothes in a very ethereal collection, composed of tulle, ruffles, pleats and lace.”

– Virginie Viard

Pencil skirts in transparent chiffon introduce a note of seduction in contrast to carefree lightness. Dance — especially ballet — has served as the primary source of inspiration for the runway, characterized not least by an abundance of tulle, ruffles, and white bodysuits. “I often think about dance; it’s an important theme for Chanel”, explained Virginie Viard. Several looks are imbued with nostalgia, drawing inspiration from historical motifs such as Victorian tea dresses, Rococo decorations, Twenties’ flapper dresses, and Eighteenth-century redingote gowns — all softened by the purity and freshness typical of youthful innocence. As early as the third look, the reference to dance becomes clear; a tweed ensemble parades down the runway, featuring a short jacket with a body-shaped lower part. The collection, dominated by pink and white hues, owes its lively touches of color to the Ballets Russes of Léon Bakst and Sergei Diaghilev. The ineffable wonder of Chanel’s craftsmanship leans forward, thanks to some exceptional artisanal techniques: a beige ensemble with a short jacket that appeared to mimic an open-knit tweed made with a similar embroidery in raffia; a pink chiffon dress with a ruffled bodice and fabric bows mixed into the skirts. The grand finale: a small white and silver bridal tunic with balloon chiffon sleeves and long yards of white tulle, alone.

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