Haute couture week is a favourite in the fashion calendar for so many reasons. The whimsy, the theatrics, the romance, and most importantly, the very meaning of haute couture – the highest level of craftsmanship and detail. For Chanel, this has always been a focal point above all else, and for Haute Couture Fall Winter 22/23, creative director Virginie Viard made sure that the House of Chanel didn't disappoint in this regard.
It was a soft continuation of last season's Haute Couture collection, leaning away from theatrics and into a commitment to let the pieces and technical artistry do the talking. Of course, there was room for experimentation as there always is, but this season felt gentle and easy. Viard once again isn't yelling about the House's commitment to couture, because ultimately she doesn't have to, you can see it for yourself.
It was evident in the abundance of jackets that came out first, cropped, collared, worn open or buttoned to the floor. The first was in a grass green hue with a matching long line button down skirt – a shade that was reminiscent of the palette from Chanel's 1988 couture show and Virginie's first at the house, as Hamish Bowles points out. Then came painterly tweed in droves. Emerald green jackets with matching jewel-toned hats, followed by tonal striped skirt sets and then almost fluffy pink ensembles. The last, and perhaps a favourite of the offering, featured a sequin bodice and embellished brooch at the neckline to resemble a bolero tie – the first of the subtle western-themed references that act as a continuation of last season where Charlotte Casiraghi rode out on horseback.
And then the gowns. While many have been inspired by the 80s this season, Viard is throwing it back to the 30s, with house archive references that saw T-strap pumps and dresses with drop waists move fluidly through the art deco set, hip-height pockets lending themselves to the gentle, relaxed feel of the collection. Pleats in the skirting gave the silhouettes a liquid fluidity that offered length when stood still, and watery elegance when on the move. A few exits on, hems were heightened to offer an energetic kick when in motion. rounded shoulders and square backs lent to the 30s feel, while the addition of cowboy boots and wide-brimmed hats allowed things to still feel modern.
“I also like to break the graphic approach with a natural look. The clothes remain light, feminine, designed to be worn. I can't see myself doing it any other way,” Viard notes in a press release.
In the details, the collection was even more exquisite. Fringes of ostrich feathers peeked out from the openings of a black tweed coat, silvery sheer lace looks were intercepted with hand beaded gowns that would have taken hundreds of hours to create, translucent Camellia petals were stitched in masses on a full skirt of a gown. This is the beauty of Chanel Haute Couture: while certain silhouettes may seem simple and even understated, both the wearer and the audience can be sure that laziness is not in the House of Chanel's vocabulary. A simple black dress is never a simple black dress, and with her quiet approach to couture, Viard has ensured that the tireless work of the couturiers will never go unnoticed.
Watch the full Chanel Haute Couture Fall Winter 22/23 show, below.