Chanel Couture Reimagines the Flapper (and the Horse Girl)

Fashion
chanel couture

Courtesy of Chanel/ Marguerite Bornhauser

We predicted the triumphant era of the Horse Girl back in 2020, a twee rendition of the western trend that has dominated the fashion scene since pre-pandemic times. Then, both Chanel and Dior featured fantasy thoroughbreds in their 2021 virtual presentations. Bucking formality (and the Met Gala’s yearly theme) in favor of camp, Kim Petras wore an entire horse head worthy of The Godfather, designed by Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada. And now that Couture Week is upon us, Chanel is back in the saddle.

For its spring-summer 2022 couture collection, the Parisian atelier opened its runway with Charlotte Casiraghi on horseback. On the scene, singer-songwriter Sébastien Tellier played oversized instruments designed by artist and the show’s setting designer Xavier Veilhan, a surrealist nod to the bygone days of World’s Fairs. “The idea for the show’s décor came from a longstanding desire to work with Xavier Veilhan. His references to constructivism remind me of those of Karl Lagerfeld,” said creative director Virginie Viard in the brand’s press notes. “I like this similarity of spirit between us, now and across time.”

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But consider the opener a false start, for the clothes themselves didn’t lean heavily into equestrian garb. Horse girls and flappers don’t have an overlap in aesthetics, but the two somehow meshed them together on the runway. Viard took notes from the avant-garde, creating a collection that illuminates the casual opulance of the roaring ’20s.

chanel

Courtesy of Chanel

courtesy of chanel

Courtesy of Chanel

courtesy of chanel

Courtesy of Chanel

courtesy of chanel

Courtesy of Chanel

courtesy of chanel

Courtesy of Chanel

Casiraghi debuts the show in explicit riding gear, wearing jodhpurs and breeches offset by a signature Chanel tweed jacket embellished in sequins. Riding on the tails of her look, a set of hourglass day suits follow, but swiftly transition into the ’20s references we know and love. Fringed dresses appear alongside geometric prints that allude to art deco, and finally, we see a hard reimagination of the flapper’s wardrobe. Eveningwear is meticulously cut away from the body while sheer bodices fall south imitating a dropped waist, all in a successful effort to de-emphasize the midsection. Accessories are rarely the focal point in a Chanel couture show, but the singular shoe featured will likely become a quiet trend amongst those in the know: a patent mary jane ready to Charleston, which served as yet another gesture to the roaring decade. And it’s not a Chanel couture show without a wedding dress. For its finale is a flowing square neck gown in bright white, a look befit for Zelda Fitzgerald.

In the end, the source material is obvious. “These references also belong to Gabrielle Chanel, of course,” Viard continued. “It’s like a conversation that crosses time.”

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