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Drawing from Past and Present, Virginie Viard’s CHANEL is Capturing the Maison’s Timeless Allure 

Emma wears Spring-Summer 2023 Ready-to-Wear collection, CHANEL. Hilal wears 2021/22 Métiers d’art collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

In a world where we can reveal everything about ourselves through posts and captions, video clips and vlogs, it’s often what’s left unsaid that is most compelling. Style exists in the mystery of such unspoken forms of expression. It is a kind of currency that cannot be traded for something tangible, but instead has value at a more conceptual level. It is visual but cannot be touched, only captured by the click and the flash of a camera’s shutter button. Style moves, and it moves us, and that movement has always been the allure of CHANEL. It’s the vibrant thread through each collection from the maison’s inception under Gabrielle Chanel until now, over a century later, under the creative direction of Virginie Viard.

Emma wears 2020/21 Métiers d’art collection, CHANEL. Hilal wears Spring-Summer 2021 Ready-to- Wear collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

“Every woman has her own style. The magic of CHANEL works for every one of them. The House is so rich in history, across eras, from the 1920s to the 1980s and 90s, which I am equally fond of,” Viard says. “The possibilities are infinite; I love playing with the codes, from tweed, an extraordinary fabric, to borrowing from the masculine wardrobe, and taking on icons such as the CHANEL jacket. We can endlessly reinvent and reinterpret our heritage. We always have to keep moving forward.”

Fall-Winter 2020/21 Ready-to-Wear collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

In recent collections, that playfulness has materialized in a number of principle pieces that embody CHANEL’s journey through time, and its unique ability to create garments that contain multiple truths at once: Dark mousseline fabrics that evoke the mystery of the night are adorned with feathers, sequins, and heels, each embellishment a quiet nod to Viard’s fascination with French New Wave films and their rejection of the creative status quo; the mixing and matching of periods of time in the form of elegant black dresses, long and short, that are at once ladylike and punk rock, Renaissance and contemporary. There is the introduction of the jumpsuit – a new classic for Viard – and the continued use of ethereal white lace for gowns that float. There are pieces that draw from more masculine attitudes while also being distinctly feminine, such as tweed skirt suits, pants paired with jackets worn with nothing underneath, and dresses featuring collars and cuffs. And then there is the unrivaled allure of lamé, a metallic and agile fabric that, for generations of CHANEL collections, has dazzled as something modern yet regal, seductive yet sophisticated.

Hilal wears Spring-Summer 2022 Ready-to-Wear collection, CHANEL. Emma wears Spring-Summer 2023 Ready-to-Wear collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

Viard infuses her collections with the legacy of creatives who came before her, gaining momentum at the helm of the maison with thoughtful designs that speak for themselves. The unwritten allure propelling her forward can be identified in the presence of the iconic camellia flower, which was the starting point not only for Viard’s Fall-Winter 2023/24 Ready-to-Wear collection, but for CHANEL itself, as it appeared in collections as early as 1924. “More than a theme,” Viard says of the beguiling bloom, “it’s an eternal code of the House.” It is a code she continues to honor as she ushers CHANEL into its next chapter.

Cruise 2022/23 collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

Spring-Summer 2023 Ready-to-Wear collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

Emma wears Spring-Summer 2021 Ready-to-Wear collection, CHANEL. Hilal wears Spring-Summer 2023 Ready-to-Wear collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

Cruise 2023/24 collection, CHANEL. Photo: Zeb Daemen

Originally published in the October 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia

Style: Elena Psalti
Hair: Anne Sofie Begtrup at Wise & Talented using Oribe hair care
Makeup: Vera Dierckx 
Casting director: Felipe Remi
Movement director: Garance Benchetrit

Local producer: Candice Carcaillon at 404Error Production
Production: Danica Zivkovic, Rama Naser
Models: Hilal Ata, Emma Goune @hilalata @emmagoune
Production assistant: Anastasiia Honcharova
Lighting assistant: Philippe Milliat
Style assistant: Ece Acarr

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