Eiffel Tower glinting majestically in the sun. Filmy black dresses fluttering in the breeze as the models stalked along a cobblestone catwalk by the Seine. Heavily bejewelled, boucle-jacketed clients fanning themselves (is a collective of Chanel haute-couture customers called a Tweed?). Models in boho headscarves and printed floaty dresses, which looked very 1970s St Tropez, and others dressed in boaters and gold-brocade skirt suits.
This was concentrated parfum de Frenchness and the audience lapped it up. Hardened journalists seemed to be enjoying it too. (At any rate, this one did). There was even a soundtrack, on repeat, of a little-known song (outside France at least) of Elton John singing in French with France Gall (a name so French it stretches the boundaries of plausibility). The song is called Donner pour Donner and it’s as cheesy as a croque monsieur. And as pleasurable.
It’s not always easy to predict how well a live show will travel in pictures. Chanel’s last collection – in LA – was far better received by those watching it IRL than by those viewing it on screens. I wasn’t in LA for that show but I was in Paris for this one, which I much preferred. Maybe it really was a better show.
I could see lots that would work in what passes for the “real” lives of Chanel’s uber-wealthy couture customers, starting with the slim, gold-buttoned maxi coat that Caroline De Maigret opened the show in (and a shorter version on Jill Kortleve), both with narrow sleeves and classically Chanel high armholes.
Beaded, floral evening gowns were pretty. The closer you looked, the more special they appeared. The slim, structured maxi skirts, some with embroidered or plain shirts, will do nicely too. One made from thickly woven khaki, white and navy stripes, partnered with a black, silk blouse, was everything you want from Chanel – spirited, relaxed but unmistakably expensive looking.
Virginie Viard, Chanel’s creative director, often gets heat for not moving the creative dial at this house. Her efforts in this direction included dropping the waists on her skirts a fraction, which altered proportions quite a lot for those with a keen eye. There was a bumper crop of tweed jackets (including a pearl-trimmed flecked corker), gold and black Mary Janes with low block heels (already a Chanel best seller from previous outings) and another return to sheer black tights.
But dial moving is not what Chanel’s legions of fans want. This is a chess board of a house – “all” a designer here has to do is move the pieces around each collection and create a compelling board. This time, mission accomplished.