Chanel's Autumn Winter 2023 show celebrates the beauty of the camellia and its identity in the House's history.
The inimitable camellia. A distinctive emblem that flourishes delicately across Chanel's elegant universe. "The camellia is more than a theme, it’s an eternal code of the House," said Virginie Viard of the flower. "I find it reassuring and familiar, I like its softness and its strength". This season, Viard explores the beauty of the winter flower and celebrates its unique ties with the storied Maison. At the centre of the runway, a gargantuan Camellia sculpture in white—this morphed into deep shades of pink and red during the finale—was presented in full bloom at the Grand Palais Éphémère, its emanating purity and prowess on display for all to see.
The camellia flower has had a longstanding history with Chanel. Gabrielle Chanel first chanced upon the camellia when she was thirteen, the encounter of which, would inspire her signature style and works during her defining years at the Maison; in 1924, the CHANEL camellia would create a statement look that imprinted deeply into the hearts and minds of admirers, complementing daytime creations worn "on the collar, or on a dress, on the shoulder or at the waist". The flower would also make their way into her home at 31, rue Cambon, featuring extensively across her Coromandel lacquer screens or fashioned neatly into standout bouquets.
Backstage at the Chanel Autumn Winter 2023 show.
Her successors have since embraced the beauty of the camellia and have continued to expand on its identity, its presence preserved in all collections. Modern and at once romantic, the Autumn Winter 2023 collection sees Viard pay homage to the founder's fascination with this flower in a timeless and alluring manner. Using a strict colour palette of black, white and shades of pink, the camellia blossomed and cascaded ferociously as floral appliques, tantalizing embellishments and mesmerising prints across the womanly ready-to-wear collection imbued with hints of masculinity. This balancing act eluding to the camellia's "softness and strength" materialised as confident peak lapels, floral coats in the likeness of a dandy's dressing gown and sharp tailored lines that dressed the female form immaculately.
Above all, Viard wanted a collection that was both delicate and "in motion", hence the mixtures of boxy jackets with wispy fabrics, floating asymmetrical hems that offered a rebellious touch and bermuda short suits that provided whimsy and movement. Accessories too were either adorned with the distinctive flora (punctuating classic flap bags and shoes, stockings and gloves) or were transformed into charming camellia minaudières and jewellery.
Below, our favourite looks from the show.
Top 15 looks