Chanel Triumphs at Paris Opera Sans Head Designer After Viard’s Exit


Even in the absence of a leading luminary, the allure of Chanel persisted, captivating the Paris Opera with a spectacular couture display that demonstrated flair and theatricality. Not many could fill the grandiose landmark, much less earn praiseworthy applause from notable figures like Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour. Yet, Chanel managed to strike aptly sans a head designer. The stalwart fashion house continued to thrive, a testament to its deep-rooted power and far-reaching recognition, even after Virginie Viard’s unexpected departure earlier in June.

The ceremonial opera glasses of Chanel in hand, guests marveled as they navigated the stately marble staircases. Lured to an outer corridor of the opera, they discovered an enchanting stage meticulously designed by acclaimed French filmmaker Christophe Honoré. Towering silhouettes redolent of the opera’s heyday adorned the stage—featuring grand capes, extravagant sleeves, and luxuriously embroidered ensembles.

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The splendid designs, rivaling the grandeur of the 19th-century atrium, sparkled with gleaming buttons and radiant threads that danced in the light. Predominantly dramatic moments unfolded, prompting guests to grab their cameras over their opera glasses. One of them being a stunning black gown, adorned with provocative ribbons, beads, and feathers, which reflected the opulent ambiance perfectly.

In an unexpected twist, this season saw Chanel veer towards a minimalistic approach concerning accessories. Unlike the signature style of the former designer Viard, emphasis was shifted to the garments themselves. The focus on intricate detailing, the richness of feathers, tassels, embroidered flowers, precious braids, lacquered jersey, tantalizing tweeds, plush velvet, illusion tulle, wonderfully crinkly taffeta, and duchesse satin that graced countless ensembles was evident. Even though the collection effused brilliance, it lacked a central aesthetic anchor, somewhat diluting the overall impact.

In a surprising turn of events, Chanel faced its first substantial event without Viard, its creative director. This followed her unforeseen exit from the brand after a triumphant tenure spanning over thirty years. The departure caused a stir due to its unnerving suddenness – just weeks before the anticipated couture show.

Following Lagerfeld’s demise in 2019, and despite inheriting his legacy underlined by controversy, Virginie Viard managed to drive Chanel to record-breaking sales, reportedly amounting to an impressive $19.7 billion last year. Her reign bore witness to a nearly 23% spike in ready-to-wear sales, reinforcing the brand’s stature. However, critics often slammed her collections for lackluster, expressionless designs, noticeably missing Lagerfeld’s larger-than-life grandeur.

While Giorgio Armani’s couture show was dipped in a romanticized nostalgia with pieces inspired by the Art Deco era and shimmering pearls, Alexis Mabille offered an extravagant ode to glamour. The audience also experienced Charles De Vilmorin’s intriguing take on edgy aesthetics through deeply creative, narrative-driven designs, instantly garnering attention within the Parisian couture scene.

Undoubtedly, in the absence of Viard, the fashion world now curiously anticipates Chanel’s next creative head. Speculated names like Hedi Slimane, Marine Serre, and Simon Porte Jacquemus hint towards a possible shift in the creative direction for the iconic brand.