Chanel’s moment in Monaco highlights the house’s longstanding connections to the principality
For anyone whose glamorous preconceptions of Monaco were formed by watching To Catch a Thief (and a James Bond film or two), the reality of the Mediterranean principality today can be a bit jarring. On a May visit earlier this year, its hairpin streets and narrow allée are walled with chain link fences, the ramparts for the E-Prix auto race that whisked through the previous weekend and the more vociferous Grand Prix to come later in the month. Peninsulas of concrete are being cast in the sea to squeeze more pricey flats into the densest two square kilometres on earth. There are no movie stars swanning into the Monte Carlo casino, but a cast of iridescent hyper cars are preening for their throngs of admirers in the plaza out front.
Despite all it has going for it – harbours that still squeeze in a teak schooner among the giga yachts and lush urban gardens scented with jasmine and orange trees – Monaco’s pizzaz depends on myth-making moments that often need to be parachuted in. (Or rather, boarded on to a helicopter at the Nice airport and dropped off at one of its waterfront helipads.) And so along came Chanel, which chose Monte Carlo for its first destination fashion show in two years. That week in May, a guest list of celebrities, press and customers gathered to take in an homage to what Monaco was, is and, perhaps, could be.
“To me, Monaco is a matter of feelings above all,” wrote creative director Virginie Viard in the collection’s show notes. “From very early on, I knew we would hold a show there, and more precisely at the Beach Hotel. Besides, [former Chanel designer] Karl [Lagerfeld] was dreaming about it. From this magnificent venue, one can glimpse his villa, La Vigie. I will never forget the times I spent there: terraces and balconies, big umbrellas, baskets of flowers – so much beauty.”
Below the villa at the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, an endless boardwalk was set up for the models and the equally expansive list of Monégasque references they wore. The Monte-Carlo ballet, Masters tennis, the casino and Formula 1 manifested as satin pointe shoes, bags playfully shaped like racquets and slot machines and tweed racing suits. A beautiful grouping of breezy dresses was covered in an abstract print of finish line checkered flags.
“Monaco is inherent to the history of Chanel,” wrote Viard. “We have lived so many happy moments there.” To create another, the house returned to Lagerfeld’s La Vigie that evening to toast the collection. Its gracious interiors were filled with sunny advertising campaign images that had been photographed at the house and its veranda was topped with white tents for a candlelit dinner. In the garden, Viard and her guests, including actor Kristen Stewart and director Sofia Coppola, mingled looking out over the city, it’s sense of glamour entirely intact.
From Seville to Puglia and ball skirts to juicy hues, these are the collections that stood out this season
Seville, Spain was not only the source of inspiration for Maria Grazia Chiuri’s resort show, but the location, too. Guests were treated to a full Andalusian experience at the Plaza de Espana including a dramatic flamenco performance that kicked off the show. Much of the collection was produced in collaboration with local artisans, including a reiteration of the saddle bag created with leather craftsman Javier Menacho Guisado.
Under southern Italy’s Pugliese night sky, in the octagonal, 13th-century Castel del Monte, Alessandro Michele presented Gucci’s “Cosmogonie” collection. Over 100 galactically inspired looks paraded around the castle, highlighting Michele’s research into the philosophy of constellations. In typical fashion, a smorgasbord of references from past, present and future blended seamlessly including Edwardian cuffs, thigh-high bondage boots, crystal embellished floral appliqués and space-age eyewear.
Everyday objects were the stars of the show at JW Anderson’s Milan debut. No stranger to a playful spin, Anderson incorporated broken skateboards, CDs and barcodes into various looks, asking the audience to question the idea of the mundane and how it relates to fashion.
Resort collections often play into escapist themes to entice those embarking on a winter vacation. This season, brands took a trip to the 1960s with psychedelic swirls on co-ordinating sets, be it a knit two-piece at Alessandra Rich, a sequin jumpsuit at Simon Miller or the double-breasted suit at Moschino, picture here.
Hand-crocheted flowers are stitched together on this oversized Stella McCartney sweater. Although, with this level of craftsmanship, the piece might be better described as fibre art. Whether you hang it on a wall or on your body, it will surely bring joy to whoever you’re around.
The Pantone people are calling it Tangelo, one of the hit hues seen in and around the spring shows in New York. Some brands such as Dion Lee were a step ahead of the trend. Its orange puffer comes complete with a matching bag and knit thigh-high socks.
When it comes to the latest in blue, think less Canadian tuxedo and more Saville Row does denim. Brands such as Sportmax are fashioning jean-like materials with a sharp tailor’s touch.
Sitting high on the waist and as wide as possible in circumference, the ballroom skirt is the entrance-making takeaway from the resort shows. Add a bit of whimsy with Rosie Assoulin’s striped taffeta ballgown.
Big Apple brand Khaite is known for creating coveted accessories, and this season is no different. Hand-applied Swarovski crystals adorn boots, flats and this crescent moon handbag.
In San Diego, Louis Vuitton distilled the majesty of a sun set on the catwalk
Fashion shows often pepper their audience with a long list of VIPs. But at the latest Louis Vuitton cruise show, presented in May at the Louis Kahn-designed Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, the entire presentation was created in homage to what was described by the French label as the “special guest” of the event: the sun.
The audience had been lured to Southern California by a curious question. Why did the brand’s artistic director of women’s collections, Nicolas Ghesquière, select such an off-the-fashion-map destination for its cruise catwalk comeback? “Having spent a lot of time in California, I was drawn to the idea of showing there,” Ghesquière wrote in the show notes about the location, which had previously been the backdrop for a Louis Vuitton ad campaign and book. “The Salk Institute has been a place of wonder for me over the years and [Kahn’s] stunning Brutalist architecture against this extraordinary setting of the Pacific Ocean and the California sunset provides me with endless inspiration,” Ghesquière continued. “It also celebrates intelligence, knowledge and the belief in the power of science.”
Without diving too much into the subtext of that last sentence and fashion’s role in social commentary, this collection proved Ghesquière’s mettle as a sartorial alchemist. He’s a creative mind who can surprise with the most opulent of silhouettes, such as the billowing jacquard looks that opened the show, and the geometric layering of swathes of linen, tweed and metallic-hued leather. A lion’s share of the assortment was heavy on outfits best suited to boss babes in pieces evocative of togas and Star Trek uniforms. A finale trio combined knee-length skirts and low-waisted straight-leg trousers with tinsel-fringed, exaggerated-sleeved cropped jackets. No one does a power shoulder like Ghesquière.
A sun-soaked skyline pattern played off other slick urban inflections such as monogrammed skateboards and an array of luminous sneakers. Embellishments came in 3-D florals and bits of patchworked textile that resembled stone and glass washed up on a beach. A motorcycle jacket appeared airbrushed like a classic car.
The designs were donned by a compelling cast of models including Congolese-Belgian musician Marie-Pierra Kakoma (a.k.a. Lous and the Yakuza) and activist Lauren Wasser. Once the pulsating drive of the show’s soundtrack had diminished and the exalted orb tucked itself into the horizon, the crowd was left in an audible state of awe. Single elements within the collection stood out, yet its totality was mesmerizing. Ephemeral as a sunset, and equally as dazzling.