Much ado has been made over the last few years about the imminent return of “indie sleaze,” a certain tattered skinny jean and neon spandex-fueled uniform seen throughout mid-2000s nightlife. But for all the ironic rocker style that was happening in the era, there was also a fair amount of hyper-feminine silhouettes — think flouncy hemlines and gratuitous ruffly bits — reflecting a sort of sweet and sassy girl-about-town look. The “frazzled English woman” meets Christina Applegate in The Sweetest Thing, if you will. I was reminded of this very specific moment in fashion for the first time in awhile while watching the Chanel 2023/24 Métiers D’Art Show. While billed in the show notes as an homage to the freewheeling music scene of Manchester (the collection was presented on the streets of the British city) it also felt reminiscent of the kind of clothes the elder millennial generation will clearly remember from New York Minute.
Let it be clear: I mean this as a full compliment. For all the ire various strains of early 21st century style receives, this particular look was playful and impractical in the most charming ways and full of fun accessories. And in the deft hands of Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard, the visual parallels were served with a side of French girl cool. Colorful little tweed suits (many with bow-bedecked tops layered underneath) came with matching newsboy caps to keep the look from feeling too stuffy; long, effortlessly draped scarves gave babydoll dresses a more grown-up edge. Meanwhile, the It Brit music scene references were still definitely there: Note, in particular a Mick Jagger-worthy fur trim Penny Lane coat and more than a few Mod statement collars. There was also a series of funky, graphic print separates toward the end of the line-up — complete with matching beanies — one might imagine a modern day English pop star wearing in a paparazzi shot.
It makes total sense that the French Maison would choose this moment to go all in on so many delightful details. Its Métiers D’Art collection, which is unique to the brand, is specifically meant to highlight the house’s artisans and their fine craftsmanship. This season, that was reflected both in brand signatures and special treatments created just for this line-up.
“Using utmost simplicity and absolute precision, [Viard] wanted this 2023/24 Métiers d’art collection to be faithful to the House codes,” it reads in the show notes. “In addition to each of the codes that make it so modern – the chains at the bottom of the jackets, the contrasting inner fabrics, the multiple topstitched panels allowing for a great freedom of movement – this is a celebration of Gabrielle Chanel’s own art of tailoring.”
Still, if Chanel borrowed plenty of ideas from the past, it is still Chanel, and thus, a steadfast barometer for what we can expect to see from fashion in the future. A few clues worth noting? The continued presence of Mary Jane flats (nearly every look included a pair), the return of the statement necklace (long layered strands and chunkier collars alike), and knee-high socks to abound (mainly in all black). Meanwhile, belts continue to reign supreme on this runway — often matched to the model’s colorful jewelry — although none of them served more purpose than looking quite fetching over knee-length skirts. In the world of fashion, you can’t ask for much better than that.
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