Chanel: The Young Woman and the Sea

A young Gabrielle once walked down a French beach and the sight of local sailors gave her the idea to include their traditional Breton-striped tops, or marinières, into her line. Then and there, she decided to merge functional wear, uniforms, and sportswear into luxury. First incredibly subversive, this later become a staple of Chanel chic, and a symbol of Gallic elegance.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

This morning at the Grand Palais, a life-sized beach welcomed the guests to the Spring/Summer 2019 show. Complete wooden huts, washed out sand, and waves, it nodded both at Coco’s first acquaintance with Brittany’s fisherman, and with vacationers on the French Riviera, where Gabrielle opened her first boutique.

This metaphor of her style, celebrating a body both active and ornamented, was made apparent through the use of accessories. Models walked barefoot through the water, holding flip-flop-inspired sandals with a kitten heel. Fanny packs were elevated in quilted leather, tied round the waist and shoulders with bejeweled straps.

More of Chanel’s revisited classics appeared in series of suits and variations of blazers – one with wide shoulders and a straight waistline, referencing, amongst other things, her first oversized jacket borrowed from lover Boy Capel.

Today, menswear has become inseparable from what we think of as typical Parisienne chic.

Some silhouettes were sharply tailored, marked at the waist, and softened by candy-color tweeds; others exuded 80s Working Girl vavavoom with acrobatical shoulder-lines, or came with multiple pockets for an ultra-functional twist.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photos by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Shift dresses with round necks and curvy buttons were reminiscent of Isabelle Huppert in Belle de Jour and exuded Yéyé femininity. A culotte and slouchy XXL jacket offered a couture take on athleisure.

A crisp white shirt was tucked into high waist cigarette pants, and layered with plenty of delightful bling, all worn by Kaia Gerber, who emanated “Super Model,” Mummy style, like never before.

Could this be a sign of support to the #MeToo movement? That’s certainly what Karl seemed to suggest, by imagining clothes in equal parts protective and escapist.