Chanel takes a dip: Viard’s spring show brings Paris stalwart down to earth

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PARIS — As Chanel’s models took their sashay down the Paris runway, guests could practically hear the faint splashes from the pools of the villa Noailles. This historic cubist space in the south of France, once graced by luminaries like Luis Buñuel, Man Ray, Dalí — and also Karl Lagerfeld — has for almost a century been a beacon for art.

Virginie Viard’s spring collection emerged as a sun-drenched ode to the villa’s gardens. With Gigi Hadid leading the pack in flip-flops, the stalwart was stripped of its typical high-brow allure, grounding Chanel styles in an earthy, relaxed summer vibe.

Here are some highlights — including an interview with Paris Hilton, and when Penélope Cruz told The Associated Press why the memory of her grandmother drew her to fashion.

VIARD MAKES CHANEL RELATABLE

“Sophistication juxtaposed with informality, the ever-present tweed, sporty touches, and delicate lace: I aimed for a harmonious blend of contrasts,” Viard said. Using the sunlit flora and tranquil pool of the villa as a muse, her collection leaned away from Lagerfeld’s signature high-glam aesthetic, presenting a panorama of comfort, chicness — and, gasp, relatability.

The parade began with multicolored tweed dressing gowns, their luxurious threads catching the light as models moved. Easygoing, low-slung outfits that evoked an air of carefree leisure faintly contrasted with detailed geometric designs gracing several pieces. Lace trimmings whispered of femininity and delicate craftsmanship, while sporty accents gave the ensembles a touch of the everyday.

This was a confident Viard, four years since taking the creative helm of the storied maison, making low key designs that seemed as if they had nothing to prove.

There were moments when the display would have benefitted from a touch more innovation, perhaps a fresh design twist that could have set the collection apart, especially when keeping Lagerfeld’s innovative legacy in mind. Some ensembles, though impeccably tailored, played it too safe.

Yet, the point of this collection lay not in dramatic novelty but in its accessibility. The use of mid-size models, for instance, was a relatable gesture that speaks volumes of Viard’s intent to make Chanel resonate with a broader audience.

In making Chanel relatable, she’s not only navigating but is redefining her space.

CRUZ RECALLS EMBROIDERED SHAWL: A LIFETIME OF FASHION

In an interviewe with the AP, Cruz’s love for fashion was poignantly traced back to a handcrafted family symbol: the Manton di Manila.

“My grandmother made by hand a Manton di Manila,” Cruz shared at Chanel’s spring collection, her eyes alight with emotion. “If I had to keep only one thing from the objects that I have and materials, it would be that one because she spent 40 hours, or maybe even more, sewing by hand.” This Manila shawl, an embroidered silk shawl derived from the Filipino pañuelo, not only stands as a testament to her grandmother’s craftsmanship but has also profoundly influenced Cruz’s appreciation for artisanal fashion.

She beautifully juxtaposed this sentiment with Chanel’s enduring commitment to craftsmanship, stating, “When you go to a building, like 19 rue Cambon at Chanel and you see all the materials, the people working in such an artisanal way, working with their hands, I really hope the world will not lose that.”

Drawing on heartwarming memories, Cruz added, “When I was a little girl, I used to play with my sister like we would draw on top of the magazines to change the designs. Never change a Chanel design, of course,” she said, smiling.

Last month, Cruz alongside her sister, Mónica Cruz, unveiled a fashion collection on Instagram, hinting at her deep-seated respect for the craft. Yet, as the longtime ambassador for Chanel confessed, her profound appreciation for fashion is tied to cherished memories and heirlooms, noting, “I’ve always had it, probably because of their relationship with my grandmother.”

MIU MIU: A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

The Palais d’Iena bore witness to Miu Miu’s latest ode to contrasts. As Paris Hilton and her sister Nicky made grand entrances amidst the clamor of paparazzi flashes on the cobbled expanse, inside, tranquility awaited. The contrasts did not stop there, echoing the brand’s history of balancing the cutting edge with the timeless.

In a dark room, large futuristic plasma screens showcased serene images of drifting clouds and blooming flowers, backed by zen-like harmonies. It was a backdrop that magnified the collection’s relaxed essence while reverberating Miu Miu’s signature exploration of dichotomies.

Sporting a preppy demeanor, the collection flirted with ’70s academia—think blazers and brogues with nonchalantly unstrapped straps, and schoolboy shorts which cleverly doubled as surfer shorts. The brand’s perennial sporty undertone came alive with a standout micro tennis skirt, flaring audaciously, its frills evoking delicate feathers.

But Miu Miu, in its inherent style, does not shy away from shimmer and show. Splashes of sparkle, vibrant stripes, and a luxurious touch of gold punctuated the collection. A particularly stunning embellished coat gleamed, reminiscent of the brand’s penchant for intertwining casual with the sumptuous.

White toggles seen on belts and shorts lent a utilitarian edge, reinforcing the sporty narrative. Miu Miu’s ability to intertwine contrasting narratives—from preppy to sporty to luxe— showcased why the brand, led by the 74 year old Miuccia Prada, remains as relevant as ever.

PARIS HILTON: GLITZ, MOTHERHOOD AND PURE HARD WORK

The City of Light was further illuminated this Paris Fashion Week by none other than its namesake star: Paris Hilton. Her unmistakable lilt echoing her love for the city, “I really wanted to come to Paris just for Nicky’s birthday,” she told AP. “Of course, I love Paris and I love fashion. It would be the perfect girls trip,” she said from behind shades and clutching a bright pink furry coat. Judging by the excitement of the fashion crowd when she entered numerous shows in the last days that rivaled Cher: early 2000s nostalgia is alive and well.

The glowing Hilton heiress explained how she has been juggling motherhood with her ever-expanding business empire. “I’m about to launch my 30th fragrance soon,” Hilton excitedly shared, causing her sister, to whom she seemed intuitively linked, to gasp. And that’s not all. With a second season of “Paris Love,” a new album produced by Sia, 19 product lines, and ventures into the Metaverse and Roblox — “I don’t stop,” she said.

Paris’s bond with sister Nicky is as strong as ever — and sometimes they sound exactly the same as in the 2000’s. “This is the Paris pre-party to Nicky’s birthday,” Hilton giggled, with Nicky saying proudly, “Paris is going to DJ.”

But for all the spotlights and in a sign that the forever young Hilton, 42, has grown up she gushed that the joys of motherhood hold a special place. “My little boy, Phoenix, is eight months old now… I miss him so much. I can’t wait to get home to him.”

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN WELCOMES SEÁN MCGIRR AS NEW CREATIVE DIRECTOR

In a significant move in the fashion world, the house of Alexander McQueen, under the Kering umbrella, has announced Seán McGirr as its new creative director. This follows the departure of Sarah Burton, who steered the brand with remarkable vision from 2010 to 2023 and held her swan song last week to critical acclaim.

McGirr, who previously led Ready-to-Wear at JW Anderson, has a diverse background. With stints at Dries Van Noten, Uniqlo, Burberry, and Vogue Hommes Japan, his career showcases a mix of luxury and commercial experience. The Dublin native honed his skills at Central Saint Martins in London.

Gianfilippo Testa, CEO of Alexander McQueen, said McGirr’s “powerful creative language” will complement the brand’s unique heritage. François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, echoed the sentiment, viewing the hiring as a promising new chapter for the brand.

Alexander McQueen, founded by the iconic Lee Alexander McQueen in 1992, is celebrated for its blend of innovation, tradition, and disruption.

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