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The designer Virginie Viard presented Chanel's Spring/Summer 2022 haute couture collection in Paris yesterday, opening the show with a woman on horseback. The equestrian, however, was not just anyone—it was Charlotte Casiraghi, the daughter of the Princess of Hanover and a Chanel ambassador. Her placement here, galloping in an arena while dressed in couture, came from a connection with the artist Xavier Veilhan, with who Viard had dreamed up an atmospheric collaboration.
“The idea for the show's décor came from a longstanding desire to work with Xavier Veilhan. His references to constructivism remind me of those of Karl Lagerfeld,” said Viard. “I like this similarity of spirit between us, now and across time. In addition to creating the show décor with its references to the avant-gardes of the 1920s and 1930s, Xavier wanted to work with Charlotte Casiraghi. His artistic universe is full of horses and Charlotte is a skilled rider.”
So, there she was for a brief moment in fashion history, striding past front-row audience members in a jacket made of black tweed and sequins to debut the new collection, while Sébastien Tellier—another friend of Veilhan's—played oversized instruments (from Studio Venezia at the French Pavilion in the 2017 Venice Biennale) above.
The artistic atmosphere designed by Veilhan marks a first for the brand, as it has never partnered with a contemporary artist to reimagine its famed fashion show set before.
“The concept that I suggested to Virginie [Viard] is a sort of garden, an open structure, something to do with both a mini-golf course and a showjumping course for horses,” said Veilhan. To highlight the silhouettes, he envisioned a set that was “quite transparent, quite ethereal, consisting largely of air,” he added. “[Haute couture] is a form of radicality...that really interests me."
This playful kick-off, inspired by universal exhibitions like the world's fair, ushered in a contemporary idea of time and space that was free, expressive, and relentless.
“These geometric shapes made me want contrasts, a great lightness and a lot of freshness: ethereal dresses that float as if suspended. Lots of flounces, fringes, macramé, bright lace, iridescent tweeds, colorful jeweled buttons,” added Viard.
In the collection, we saw the designer offer such contrasts—from a pink tweed jacket with white stripes to straps of white braid embroidered with beads or silver chains. Two-tone Mary-Jane shoes inspired by the 1920s were propped up by heels re-influenced by the 1980s; tiered tulle skirts were paired with structure tweed jackets; spaghetti strap dresses featured an over-the-shoulder bow on just one side; and fine geometric embroidery, as if mimicking the décor, was seen on dresses, tops, trousers, and more.
A skirt, open at the front and clasped at the waist, provided an ample peek-a-boo opportunity for the garment underneath, a lace dress embodied sophistication was topped in a thin jacket of the same material and print, and a high-low dress with a deep front-facing slit was paired with asymmetrical layers and held up by embellished triangular straps.
At long last, the bride emerged for the finale, carrying a dark bouquet of flowers. In a scoop-neck, pearl-adorned spaghetti strap dress, with layers of fabric trimmed by silver embellishments, she walked slowly with a small flower crown tied by two large bows on her head. It was beautiful, it was simple, yet it was surrounded by modern moments of art, music, and culture—just like the house of Chanel.