Coco Chanel first came to Hollywood in 1931, invited by Samuel Goldwyn to add glamour to the flagging film industry by creating costumes for his United Artists Studio. And on Tuesday night, she returned — in spirit at least — to Paramount.
The French luxury brand staged its 2024 resort show at the historic studio where members of the Writers Guild had been striking earlier in the day. Hollywood is in its second week of the action, which has brought nearly all production to a standstill. But Chanel made it clear it has no part in the dispute.
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“We’re just working with Paramount to use the space,” Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion and president of Chanel SAS, told WWD, noting that the deal to rent the location was struck months ago.
By sunset, just a couple of strikers lingered as black cars full of celebrities (Margot Robbie, Kristen Stewart, Elle Fanning and more) entered the famous gates like Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert and so many of the clients of Chanel before them did in the Golden Age.
Inside, the brand had created the kind of Instagrammable experience expected of runway shows today, with neon signs, food trucks serving everything from burgers to beignets, and roller skaters weaving through cocktail chatter.
The runway set was dominated by an enormous movie screen on the side of a building near the iconic Paramount water tower, with a painted wood floor that turned into a roller rink for the after party.
The film backdrop featured soaring views of palm trees, the Los Angeles skyline and the beach, before the camera zeroed in on French actress and Chanel ambassador Alma Jodorowsky pumping dumbbells with perfect bouncy waves in her hair, a reminder of the “no pain, no gain” mentality of the Hollywood dream factory.
“From John Travolta to Jane Fonda, so many actresses, the body, the gym, aerobics,” Viard said of the inspiration for the resort collection. “Un peu sport, un peu tweed.”
Models walked out to Jerry Goldsmith’s provocative opening song from 1992 noir film “Basic Instinct,” not in Mademoiselle’s LBDs, but in Hollywood glam-gone-to-the-gym.
Crystal-edged dolphin shorts, crop tops and star- and comet-embroidered high-cut leotards were next-gen eveningwear pieces, echoing the daring red-carpet looks worn by Stewart to the 2022 Oscars (Chanel) and Kendall Jenner to last month’s Met Gala (Marc Jacobs “in honor of Karl.”)
Harking back to her roots as a costume designer, perhaps, Viard (and the show soundtrack) conjured a range of screen characters, including Faye Dunaway’s Evelyn Cross in 1930s-set “Chinatown” (1974), Sharon Tate’s Jennifer North in “Valley of the Dolls” (1967), Margot Robbie’s ‘60s-era Sharon Tate in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (2019), Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” (2001) and many more.
The looks cross-referenced the decades, too. Barbie pink tweed short shorts, bustiers and minidresses were made for the “90210” set, while filmy chiffon dresses in bold camellia prints and lace layers had a bohemian flair. Twin sets with gold buttons and painted denim were pretty in pastels, while gold track pants and a leather bra top, and a slinky gold zigzag jumpsuit had sex appeal in the spirit of L.A.’s early ‘80s hangout Flippers Roller Boogie Palace. Meanwhile, the disco light-up heels could be the next cult accessory. (They have different color and speed settings.)
Pumped-up beachwear in sunset shades was also a standout, including a sparkly palm tree cardigan jacket over lavender tweed shorts suit, and a pink dégradé sequin crop top over a candy-stripe maxiskirt. The elegant 1920s-inspired chemise dresses and long skirts worn with tank tops; sparkle tweed robe jackets and coat, and sequin pajamas were also luxe but easy, as Chanel should be.
Viard visited California for the first time when Karl Lagerfeld showed his Chanel cruise collection in Santa Monica in 2006. It was love at first sight, and she’s vacationed here several times since, including a recent trip that had her driving Highway 1 to Big Sur. “J’adore,” she said of the dramatic coastal landscape.
A lifelong film fan, Viard’s started her career working as a costume designer in the late 1980s. “I was more inspired by the girls,” she said when asked about the matinee idols hanging on her walls as a teenager. “Nastassja Kinski in ‘Tess’ was one,” she said referencing the Roman Polanski-directed 1979 film based on “Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” “For me, maybe that’s why I started doing film.”
At next week’s Cannes Film Festival, Chanel will be part of Maiwenn’s “Jeanne du Barry” film premiering opening night, Tuesday, with costumes by Jürgen Doering and Viard. They were inspired by 18th-century dress and vintage Karl Lagerfeld Chanel from the 1980s and ’90s that was itself inspired by the story of Louis XV’s last mistress. Criss-crossing the generations, once again.
“Every year, we’re supporting one, two, three movies. And it’s not just about costume, it can be about more than that. And cinema is just one component of creation,” Pavlovsky said. “It’s important to invest in creatives in this time of artificial intelligence. Because it’s about people and talent.”
The cruise show coincided with the opening of the new Rodeo Drive boutique, Chanel’s biggest in the U.S.. which Pavlovsky pointed out is platinum LEED certified. “It was important in California to do the best we could do at the moment,” he said of the sustainability effort.
The events in L.A. followed the Met Gala in New York celebrating the legacy of Lagerfeld. The brand dressed 10 celebrities, and racked up its most popular Instagram post in history, a family photo of all of them.
Other Met Gala guests dressed “in honor of Karl.”
While the Chanel brand has traditionally been fiercely protective of its designs, including taking out full-page ads in WWD condemning the use of phrases such as “Chanel-like,” the Met was a free-for-all of creative license with the house codes.
“For Karl and the Met, for 24 hours, we can stay quiet. Not more!” Pavlovsky laughed when asked about it. “This was part of the game, an invitation to play and contribute because of Karl. But the brand policy will not change.”
Launch Gallery: Chanel Resort 2024
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