It takes a lot to get Keira Knightley on the red carpet these days. But yesterday the actor made a star appearance on the Chanel front row for the house’s AW 22/23 Haute Couture show. Proving that a SBD (that’s summer black dress) and sunglasses is the chicest way to approach a heatwave, Keira joined guests including Sigourney Weaver and Maggie Gyllenhaal at the Étrier de Paris equestrian centre on the edge of Paris.
Walking through the sandy set of created by Xavier Veilhan, there was much speculation that this show might repeat the daring opening of Chanel’s last couture offering: where Charlotte Casiraghi rode her horse down the runway.
In the end, there were no horses, but plenty of equestrian touches to the collection. Chunky cowboy boots gave the classic Chanel tweed suits a relaxed feel – as did the wide-brimmed men’s hats that accompanied some of the looks. ‘I like to break the graphic approach with a natural look,' Chanel creative director Virginie Viard explained in the show notes. ‘The clothes remain light, feminine, designed to be worn. I can't see myself doing it any other way.'
That relaxed feel came too from the 1930’s silhouette – all drop waists and long hemlines. ‘In this new collection, there are suits, long dresses like Mademoiselle Chanel imagined them in the 1930s: 'fitted to the body even though they have strong shoulders here, and pleated dresses,' Virginie explained.
Whilst the clients watching were mostly representing the house’s storied tweed, their phones lifted in earnest to snap the series of black dresses that looked destined to be worn to the chicest Christmas parties. Many featured pieces of celestial-themed necklaces, created in celebration of the 90-year anniversary of the 1932 ‘Bijoux de Diamants’ – the only collection of jewellery Coco Chanel made with diamonds.
If diamonds and couture gowns sound out of scope though, there were touches of inspiration for anyone dreaming of being a Chanel girl. The bow-headpieces, for example, felt like cult pieces the high street will rush to emulate – and brides everywhere might want to save up for. The white one worn with an embellished white scarf draped over the dress by Jill Kortleve, in the traditional Chanel Couture bride look to close the show, will surely top bridal inspiration boards on Pinterest for years to come.
But it was perhaps the song that featured in the final look that resonated most with the watching crowd, prompting many to pull out their phones and open Shazam. ‘Don’t waste your time ‘cause time is precious. It’s your only time you’ve got here,’ went the lyrics of the song by Sault. ‘Life will always bring its pressures. Use it wise and keep those treasures.’ A fitting mood for the first Haute Couture season post pandemic with no restrictions.