Three years into her stint as artistic director of Chanel it is clear that Virginie Viard is making no apologies for the brand of spare elegance she has cemented at the Maison in the post-Lagerfeld era. It’s the same approach when it came to her haute couture which had its latest Spring/Summer 2022 presentation during Paris Fashion Week recently.
The seeming simplicity of Viard’s designs may stand in stark contrast to the outlandish embellishments and architectural shapes familiar in the realm of haute couture, but her restrained approach and strict emphasis on tailoring and artisanal craftsmanship place Viard in the same headspace as the Constructivists whom she namechecked for this outing.
Chanel looked to the ’20s and ’30s for its Spring/Summer 2022 couture collection, at a time when the influence of the Constructivism was strong.
The Constructivists were a group of avant-garde artists who originated in Russia during the ’20s and were known for their obsession with building and science, rather than artistic expression and decorative details. The movement’s preoccupation with industrial production influenced Lagerfeld – and this was evident in his short film Coco 1913 – Chanel 1923 (2007) and reportedly the notes he used to leave Viard.
Viard found a kindred spirit in the French contemporary artist Xavier Veilhan who created the geometric and winding set for the show which acted as a framework “where I felt very free”. She added: “His references to Constructivism remind me of those of Karl Lagerfeld. I like this similarity of spirit between us, now and across time.”
While feathered embellishments provided the nod to the Flapper-era as well as the quality of lightness that Virginie Viard was seeking in the collection, some designs were actually decorated with fine fringes of tulle – highlighting the skilled workmanship of the ateliers.
“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, colourful jewelled buttons.”
In the gallery below, we zoom into some of the details and scenes from the show you might have missed.