Chanel couture: Majorettes tame the bestiary

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Coco Chanel always loved a lion. Her successor Virginie Viard loves a whole bestiary, staging a chic and sophisticated haute couture collection for the famed Paris house amid a catwalk of giant animals.

Chanel – Spring-Summer2023 – Haute Couture – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

 The creation of artist Xavier Veilhan, with whom she regularly collaborates, there were Trojan horses, elephants, lions, mice, bulls and various mythological creatures made of plywood and cardboard. The same material used in the envelopes featuring the program notes, which included images of model Vivienne Rohner surrounded by Corgi and Labrador pups.
 
“The whole idea emerged after our show in Senegal when I met Xavier inside Coco’s apartment and he was struck by all the statues of lions and caged birds she owned,” explained Viard.

Though the overriding image of the collection was the drum majorettes who opened the show, albeit given a very polished make-over.

 Dresses in flirting, pleated short skirts cut well up the thigh and paired with new Chanel jackets that ended at the waistline, were spruce and jaunty. Cut with just two pockets with flaps, small collars – and sometimes finished with small metal hunting dogs – and paired with lace up black and white booties, the jackets looked very fresh. While tweed bouclé tunics and coat dresses were embroidered with images of Scotch Terriers and Labradors.
 

Chanel – Spring-Summer2023 – Haute Couture – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

Adding to the sense of fun, multiple models wore circus master top hats. They all had the sporty energy of a drum majorette, blended with the chic of a Parisienne. Yet another example of how Viard has subtly reduced the target age of the Chanel customer during her four-year tenure at the esteemed maison.
 
In some savvy DJing, mix master Michel Gaubert conjured up a smart blend of rave party music, starring Felix’s cut of Don’t You Want Me.
 
The cast weaving around the three-meter-high bestiary statues inside the Grand Palais Ephemere, a huge structure in front of the Ecole Militaire, temporarily replacing the original while it is renovated.
 
For evening, Viard took things up a notch with super elegant metallic houndstooth cocktails flared from the waist down; black semi-sheer lace ruffled dresses or puckered chiffon dresses, again topped by toppers. 
 

Chanel – Spring-Summer2023 – Haute Couture – France – Paris – © ImaxTree

Beautiful lace dresses featured halter necks made of golden thread deer heads and antlers, while the Marianne, or bride, that ends all couture shows, was German model Anna Ewers. Her dress finished mid-thigh, her veil covered in white doves and her boots in gold leather.

Viard took her bow, by gracefully going over to Veilhan and insisting he joined her, which he bashfully did. The applause rising another notch in an audience that included Roger Federer, Baz Luhrmann, Hio Miyazawa, Fumi Nikaido, Lilith Stangenberg, Sonoya Mizuno, Blanca Li, Iman Perez, Rossy de Palma and old friends of the house Caroline de Maigret and Ines de la Fressange.
 
“I wanted the sense of fun of a majorette, and their sense of physical liberty. And short skirts were nice to try in haute couture. And I wanted my bride like a small bird in contrast to all these huge animals. To me, Anna is like a heroine from a circus movie,” Viard concluded.

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