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Deauville and its gallic love affaire with Chanel

Historicism has always been central for a fashion house like Chanel, an intrinsic part of its  DNA, it helps new generations understand the golden era of couture through the lenses of  new creative directors. Reminiscing “the good old days” is a societal tendency that arises  in times of uncertainty as a form of finding familiarity and defying the hostility to the  unknown. That is perhaps the reason that, in a fast-paced world like nowadays, Virginie  Viard looked back at the brand’s roots in Deauville, the lavish French locality that inspired  the Chanel allure. 

The show, one of Paris fashion week’s most expected rendezvous, began with a short film  starring Brad Pitt and one of the house muses, Penelope Cruz. Screened over the  catwalk, it was a tribute to Un homme et une femme, the gallic classic that won the Palme  d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966 and versed about the love affair between a  widow and a widower.  

Deauville, which has named one of the brand’s citric perfumes, brought back the  attendees to the seaside benches of the preferred French resort at the turn of the 20th  century, just as the fragrance does with the power of its sea-scented breeze. That  “aroma” was kept during the entirety of the show, which presented practical clothes for  the women of today with a historic twist that draws a connection with the corset-less  collections that the French Brittany inspired in Gabrielle Chanel.  

The ample wig hats catapulted us to a 1912 seaside resort where French high society  spent their time promenading around the beach boulevards, Deauville. There, a 29-year old Coco Chanel opened her first boutique with the intention of freeing women of the  unpracticality of their restrictive attires through flattering long cardigans that, with the help  of a belt, would accentuate their waists. The development of this sporty-chic style was  crucial for the designer, as it is for Viard, who during her reign has shown a more relaxed  version of the brand. 

With a clear inspiration on Normandy’s countryside, Viard dotted the runway with colored  earthy, whites, pinks, and finally blacks, which seemed to tell the story of a day back in  the early 20th century when the affluent ladies would shift their outfits and its colors in  accordance to the day time. Whites for the mornings, pastels for noons, and darks for nights and festivities. Although black would only be later popularized by Gabrielle Chanel  as it was considered graceless and reserved for lute at the time.  

The priorly stated hats upscaled the outfits providing the perfect window for the sea view  projected on the big screens on the runway. While the models walked to the rhythm of the  evocative song “sexy boy” by the French band Air, the suede high boots they wore added  flair and character to the flowing dresses. The bags, as per usual, dazzled the attendees  with their coveted signature style that was also present on the classic tweed-style jackets  that gave a masterclass in savor faire and elegance. 

Fashion is the wearable art that reflects upon what society is and craves to become, and  for a house that must balance innovation and heritage, creative directors are in charge of  constantly revisiting the brand archives to build a future image by the founder’s desires  while attending to the necessities and wishes of the current female. Viard has proven her  ability to do so with her latest ready-to-wear collection for Chanel on which she has  demonstrated her respect for the brand’s roots by honoring one of the places that were  closest to Gabrielle’s heart, Deauville, the sumptuous location that marked a new  beginning for her brand, and that will maybe signify a new starting point for the French  giant.

Words: @edugilhurta