It was Coco herself who said that fashion reflects the world we live in. But while many fashion weeks mirror the current era of turbulent controversy and anger, a foam lion head worn by Kylie Jenner at Schiaparelli has sparked social media rage. Until the head of Peta comes to the rescue of couture by unexpectedly saying “celebrating the beauty of the lion” – Chanel is the silent eye of the storm.
Virginie Viard, who replaced the great entertainer Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel four years ago, set an understated mood here. The animals in Coco’s elegant Paris apartment were the theme of her latest haute couture show—marble lions guard alongside pairs of carved wooden deer and a lucky golden frog proudly perched on a coffee table.
In contrast to the Kardashians trap and fake taxidermy on Schiaparelli’s Instagram, the Trojans, deer, and birds at Chanel were abstract plywood sculptures by artist Xavier Veilhan, and the models from them wore solemn, sparkly tweed suits. The drama came with a light touch, with circus master top hats and bow ties worn as chokers.
However, Chanel will have the lion’s share of the limelight this year. A major exhibition honoring Lagerfeld’s career, who has spent forty years at Chanel, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York will be followed by a major retrospective of Coco herself at the V&A in London this year. Backstage before the show, Chanel’s head of fashion Bruno Pavlovsky said, “I saw the layout of the Met exhibition – it’s great. I worked with Karl for many years and he was always talking about the latest Met show. He really liked the museum.”
Pavlovsky was also waiting to discover which red carpet ambassador for Chanel would receive an Oscar nomination. Last year was a successful awards season for Chanel, dressing best actress nominees Kristen Stewart and Penélope Cruz.
“We have great players who can help us talk about our brand, so any time we can help them do their best is very important to us,” Pavlovsky said. “We’re trying to position ourselves as a supportive partner – it’s a situation where they can do whatever they want, whenever they want.”
Chanel’s relationship with Hollywood began in 1931, when Gabrielle Chanel was invited by movie mogul Sam Goldwyn.
Chanel will hold a major Cruise runway show in Los Angeles in May, a week after the Met Gala kicks off the Lagerfeld exhibit. “We’re celebrating Karl’s 40th anniversary in New York and then we’re heading straight to Los Angeles to showcase a new collection and talk about the future. It’s going to be a busy week for everyone, especially [the coronation of] of Charles III. But you can’t be Chanel just by staying in an apartment on the first floor of the 1st arrondissement of Paris.”
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Pavlovsky said in September the V&A will showcase “the modern style of an era when star designers, including Mademoiselle Chanel, so defined modern fashion.” “For me, there is no contradiction between Chanel’s past and her future.”