Since taking the helm at Chanel, Virginie Viard has made it her calling card to pay homage to the fashion house’s storied history. She’s recreated the orphanage where Coco Chanel grew up and sent models down a red carpet inspired by the A-list muses dressed by Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. For Spring/Summer 2022, Viard revisited the brand’s archives of the late ’80s and early ’90s — a time of glamour, sensuality, and plenty of personality on the runway. And an era for the brand that’s come back into the cultural zeitgeist thanks to fans on the internet resurfacing the most iconic looks.
It wasn’t just the clothing that captured the era; Viard forewent Chanel’s usual over-the-top sets at the Grand Palais (which is under construction) for a tented event with a raised runway (typical of the era) lined by photographers snapping photos of the models, who didn’t just walk — they twirled, strutted, and smiled their way down the runway. “I used to love the sound of flashbulbs going off at the shows in the eighties,” Viard explained via the show notes. “When the models were on a raised runway. I wanted to recapture that emotion.”
During the supermodel era, the likes of Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer pioneered this bolder interpretation of the catwalk, and though it’s mostly fallen out of favor in modern times, for the occasion, Viard encouraged models to bring a level of energy that couldn’t just be felt at the show, but also through the screen to those viewers tuning in at home.
This season was a logo-heavy one for Viard, choosing to splash the interlocking C’s across knit matching sets and collarless jackets. Channeling Lagerfeld’s love of bold, playful designs, Viard cut bouclé suits at miniskirt length and embraced head-to-toe sequins. Swimsuits, cutouts, and sheer separates all made for a more sensual, skin-baring interpretation of Chanel than we tend to see from Viard, but unlike Lagerfeld, it’s clear that she still had the wearer’s comfort in mind. There was plenty of skin to be seen, but the fit of the clothing allowed for movement without risk of riding or slipping.
The same sense of practicality can also be tied back to the show’s accessories. Shoe silhouettes were comfortable and simple — a mix of strappy block-heeled sandals and buckled mary janes, with a few platform options shown in the mix. “[They] remind us of pirate shoes,” Viard adds. “I always like to have something romantic. A touch of mystery.” The mix of bags included the more typical Chanel shoulder silhouettes along with larger shopper-sized options, and sometimes both layered together.
The styling also leaned into the ’80s’ love of over-accessorizing. Long necklaces were layered together, belts punctuated the midriffs of dresses and separates alike, and a handful of models sported neon hoops as a finishing touch. The effect was decadent, and a reminder that with the resurgence of ’80s- and ’90s-era pieces from the brand blowing up on resale sites, there’s no time like the present for the brand to give its fans modern interpretations to lust over, too.
Below, see more from the collection.