“The camellia is more than a theme, it’s an eternal code of the house,” Virginie Viard said in her press release for the Chanel Fall Winter 23 show. “I find it reassuring and familiar, I like its softness and its strength.” It was the starting point for the collection, as hinted to us in the invitation and teaser video – a clip of the House's ambassador, Nana Komatsu with the Camellia at the centre of the frame.
The same clip was projected onto giant white Camellias constructed in the centre of the show space. It's been a century since Gabrielle apparently first pinned a Camellia flower onto a dress, so on its anniversary, it was all about the emblematic bloom.
There were hints of what the teaser told us from the first exit. Heavily contrasted, black, white and grey looks emerged onto the runway. Where Viard has leaned heavily towards opening with tweed for the past few seasons, this time she shook it up slightly. There was a black leather trench coat with small leather Camellia's adorning the collar, a striped dress with a floral emblem and interlocking CC print, a pair of layered floral lace two-toned tights with a glossy mackintosh. There were little rompers, tweed Bermuda shorts and leather hot pants. A series of four knitted black sweaters were embellished with little Camellias in varying sizes to create a polka dot effect; there were giant angora Camellia sweaters and cap toe pumps sporting the flower. It was in the models hair, in their earrings, on their necklaces, t-shirts, jackets, stockings. Joyfully, it was everywhere while somehow not feeling like a surrealist art project.
The Chanel canon's codes remain impervious to trends and lean on sensibility and sentiment. This practice is felt acutely with Viard at the helm, guiding the brand in the direction of designing for all kinds of women, cementing herself with this since succeeding Lagerfeld, most notably with the extension of sizing and use of more than a single model.
Viard is adding her own approach to how the House is perceived by grounding it in reality. How are women today dressing? Who do they want to be? Most importantly, where are they wearing Chanel?
Viard's answer? Everywhere!
Watch the full Chanel Fall Winter 23 show, below.