Chanel’s Latest Show Explored the Beauty and Meaning of the Camellia Flower

Greg Stevens

Lead PictureChanel Autumn/Winter season 2023Courtesy of Chanel

“The camellia is much more than a concept, it’s an eternal code of the home.” Virginie Viard is talking about Chanel, of program – that flower being an inextricable image of the label, and one all-around which Viard’s Autumn/Winter season 2023 collection revolved, pretty much and figuratively. Gargantuan camellias sat at the centre of the catwalk, canvasses for projections of color and film, like fragmented views of the Chanel ladies. With the viewers circling every, arena-model, the types twisted their way about people blooms, dressed in more iterations of the similar.

There are loads of allusions to be found in camellias, which is a person explanation why Gabrielle Chanel loved them so. La Dame aux Camélias, Alexandre Dumas fils’ semi-autobiographical novel charting his like affair with the courtesan Marie Duplessis, is the most popular example of the flower – exterior the realm of Chanel, that is. Dumas fils’ heroine Marguerite Gautier is nicknamed ‘the girl of the camellias’ due to the fact she wears a pink camellia when she is menstruating, and white when she is available to her gentleman callers. The sexual frisson of the flower connects with Chanel’s possess liberation – she was, immediately after all, an emancipated woman, never married, with aristocratic enthusiasts of her own. But Chanel also just appreciated the graphic result and stylised condition of the purely natural flower – in the 1920s and 30s, as Chanel’s get the job done turned passionate, it was only one particular of a variety of various flowers she would pin or embroider to her dresses. By the 1950s, nevertheless, her design had solidified and the camellia became Chanel.

The latter is extra in preserving with Virginie Viard’s collections for Chanel, which are direct, pure, quickly read and resonant. As with the do the job of Gabrielle Chanel herself, the focal stage is to join with gals, with reality, not to costume them, to fantasise and reinvent them. In the past, Viard’s shows have been centered on impressionist painting, in Monte Carlo echoing quite a few and diverse Monégasque themes, and recreating the giddy environment of the house’s displays of the early 1990s. This time, the sweet simplicity of the curve-petaled camellia was a leitmotif that blossomed across every conceivable floor.

Bouquets have been woven into materials as two-dimensional pattern, or appeared to thrust by way of as a few-dimensional appliqué increasing from underneath the material of knits and tweeds. They clasped handbags, or in some cases shaped the entire shape of a dancing minaudière, which jackets were cut with curved panels, like petals opening all around the overall body. You could also argue that the silky softness of the flower observed reflection in the slithery surfaces of chiffons and charmeuses – but that would be a achieve. 

The colors, however, were being clipped straight from a bouquet: white, pale pink, a prosperous, bloated red, all contrasted with graphic black and gray. Viard reasoned that she appreciated the strength and the softness of the camellia – which translated to a perform on masculine and female, usually at the heart of Chanel. Sharp tailoring contrasted with floral coats like dandyish smoking jackets designs wore breeches and knickerbockers in hardy tweeds, as if Marguerite Gautier had donned the garb of her fans, and determined to liberate herself from her gilded cage. Which, like the camellia, is quintessential Chanel.

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