The scene would undoubtedly have amused Karl Lagerfeld, he who had organized in 2014 at the Grand Palais a demonstration-style parade, where his models held up signs against the backdrop of the Parisian street. While for its cruise show on Tuesday May 9, Chanel chose Los Angeles and the Paramount studios as the decor this year, the famous double arch which marks the entrance was animated, the day before, by a picket, a real one, of the Writers Guild of America, the powerful corporation of screenwriters.
Hollywood has been shaken for more than a week by a movement already qualified as historic which asks the studios to better remunerate the authors at the time of streaming. No doubt this is not exactly the scenario imagined by the house on rue Cambon for a fashion show supposed to celebrate its links with the world of cinema, woven since 1931 during a trip by Gabrielle Chanel to Hollywood on the invitation from tycoon Samuel Goldwyn, owner of MGM.
“Our desire, by coming here, is to honor cinema. Chanel is above all a brand of creation, but creation is the work of the human brain. The challenge of creation in our world where we want to algorithmize everything concerns me”assures Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of Chanel’s fashion activities, as if echoing the concerns of American screenwriters.
Did the argument hit the mark? On Tuesday, the guild decided to set up “neutral entrances” allowing cinema personalities invited to the parade to go there without fear of breaking the strike. This allows Chanel to count on the presence of brand ambassador actresses such as Kristen Stewart, Margot Robbie and Marion Cotillard, as well as director Sofia Coppola, with whom she collaborates regularly.
The show can begin, which borrows from Hollywood of course, but above all from californian way of life, real as well as fantasized. In the city of the Lakers, the podium is in fact a basketball court, as a nod to the NBA playoffs, which are currently exciting America in general, and California in particular. We would almost expect to see LeBron James appear.
Skateboard, milkshake and rollerblades
The tone is set and the wardrobe imagined by Virginie Viard, the artistic director of Chanel, begins by celebrating a sporty Californian – swimsuits, mini-shorts and tank tops – even if Hollywood glamor is not long in coming: rhinestone jumpsuits and lamé dresses, wraps and bustiers. All without departing from Chanel’s usual vocabulary. On the catwalk, the femme fatale of 1930s film noir rubs shoulders, not without humor, with the aerobics addict of the 1980s, the tie and die of the seventies succeeds the elegance of roaring twentieswhile on a giant screen palm trees scroll by.
Palm trees found embroidered, here on a jacket, there on a low-cut dress. The cliché is assumed and nothing is missing from the postcard: from skateboarding worn as an accessory to milkshakes and rollerblades displayed on playful prints. “A light and smiling imagination”, claimed by Virginie Viard. Once the parade is over, after a surprise mini-concert by the rapper – Californian, of course – Snoop Dogg, the public will also be invited to go down, roller skates on their feet, on the basketball court converted into a roller disco track. Venice Beach is not far away.
“Coming to Los Angeles means taking advantage of this energy that you only see here”, rejoices Bruno Pavlovsky. An energy that nourished Virginie Viard’s work in the same way, he says, that she had nourished a few months ago from the atmosphere of Dakar, where Chanel worked with local craftsmen for its trades collection. of art.
The cruise collections, originally intended to dress a wealthy clientele who went, if not on a cruise, at least on a trip to the sun, often took place in distant destinations. Chanel has thus made a stopover in the past in New York, Miami, Singapore, Dubai or, already, Los Angeles, during a landmark fashion show by Karl Lagerfeld in 2007 at Santa Monica airport against a backdrop of roaring jet engines. A soundtrack that would probably no longer be acceptable today, where fashion claims it can no longer escape environmental issues. “Travelling remains fundamental for usinsists Bruno Pavlovsky. We are a creative brand, in order to create we need to reach out to other cultures, to understand what is happening in the world, but we have to do it for the right reasons, not just for a five-minute show. »
Reasons which, in the case of Los Angeles, are also economic. “The United States is the first luxury market, the one where we meet the most wealthy customers”, adds the president of Chanel’s fashion activities. An essential market that the pandemic has further strengthened, as Asia became less accessible. The brand also opened its largest store in the United States on May 5 on the famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, nearly 3,000 square meters on one of the most expensive streets in the world. The culmination of a ten-year project that the presentation of the cruise collection provides timely support.