Escaping from the Blizzard at Chanel's Summery Villa

A snowstorm was brewing all over Paris this morning – except at the Grand Palais. Even though snowflakes were piling up on its glass roof, visible from underneath, Chanel's venue of choice felt balmy. It had been transformed into a decadent villa in the South of France, complete with cypresses, palm trees, Anduze terracotta flower pots, green grass and roses (all real), and a swimming pool brimming with turquoise water. The show's title? Villa Chanel. The French maison is so legendary it need not concern itself with blizzards, choosing instead to create its own Hollywood-like fantasy world.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2019 Couture show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

And today, that fantasy was inspired by the 18th century in France – a time as removed from today's Gilets Jaunes movement as can be. The execution, though, was done via the sixties, so that it was not as much Madame de Pompadour as Brigitte Bardot at a fancy cocktail party on a July evening. Bouffant volumes (and hair), duchess satin, organza, feathers, crystals, and embroideries were used in playful ways: as short capes, mini dresses, and colourful details subtly revealed underneath graphic pleats. Classic Chanel proportions were also there, in elongated silhouettes and variations on the "petite veste noire" exploring different trompe-l'œil collar shapes, in a palette of black, ivory, turquoise, and pink.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2019 Couture show in Paris. Photos by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

A sense of lightness and a refreshing lack of self-consciouness (virtues as rare in today's couture shows as they are a symptom of true technical and artisanal know-how) were present throughout the collection, especially at the end, when the finale wedding dress – this time a wedding bathing suit entirely covered in crystals, complete with retrofuturistic headgear – made its way across the catwalk to Dalida's "Parole." All in all, an escapist fantasy... which is what Chanel has always done best. Mister Lagerfeld, not feeling well this morning, was notoriously absent from his own show, having instead Virginie Viard, Chanel's studio director Virginie Viard take a bow at the end. His Chanel dream, however, was in as good a form as ever.