The Chanel Spring Summer 2023 Haute Couture show was, if described in a singular word, fun. Held last week on Tuesday January 24, in the sprawling space of Paris' Grand Palais Éphémère, Virginie Viard riffed on a kind-of homely village square party to bring the collection to life. There were majorettes and top hats and bow ties, before the collection ascended into evening wear, the whole show woven around large wooden and paper animal structures that models climbed out of and walked between.
The set was designed by French artist Xavier Veilhan in collaboration with designer Alexis Bertrand. Veilhan spent time with Viard at Gabrielle Chanel's Rue Cambon apartment, sourcing inspiration via her surplus of animal-themed objects around the house. The sculptures ranged in height from two to four meters, and made from wood, cardboard and paper: a croco-dog, a camel, a buffalo, a doe, a dog, a bird, two fishes, a lion, a horse and an elephant from which models emerged during the show.
To further Chanel's longstanding commitment to the arts and culture community, the House invited 600 students from various art, fashion and design schools to discover the show décor on the afternoon of the show and the day following with a guided tour from Veilhan and Bruno Pavlovsky, President of CHANEL SAS and President
of le19M. “The idea is to understand this absolutely unique and exceptional creative dialogue between Xavier and Virginie,” he explains.
In a video below, students are captured sitting in the show seats as Veilhan explains his process for the set, giving the students an opportunity to roam amongst the set and gain access to a close look at the structures built specially for the show. "I often like to create intermediary scales between places and people." Veilhan tells the students, "I wanted to use fairly simple materials, like the plywood here, and the carton and paper, and to have very little colour, leaving all the colour to the collection and the appearing clothes."
Watch the full clip, below.