C not only stands for Chanel, but also for cinema. Today Virginie Viard presented an Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin–directed black-and-white short paying tribute to French New Wave film as part of her Chanel spring 2021 collection, her third since becoming the creative director of the French house.
It began with an aerial view of the Hollywood Hills, the block letters of the Hollywood sign replaced with “Chanel.” The camera then zoomed past the Champs-Élysées and toward the iconic vaulted glass ceiling of the Grand Palais, the maison’s storied show venue. Intercut throughout were scenes from La Piscine, Breathless, A Woman Is a Woman, Contempt, and Pierrot le Fou, along with four vignettes of models dressed in the collection, acting out cinematic tropes: sitting on a bed, gazing out a window, walking along a desolate street, and talking on the phone.
The film faded to the show livestreamed from the Grand Palais, where the brand built a real-life version of the Chanel sign. Models emerged from behind the giant letters. Tops emblazoned with the number five—a nod to the Chanel No. 5 fragrance but also to the countdown seen at the start of old films—were paired with jackets and biker shorts. Black V-neck dresses with sarong-style skirts were printed with the Chanel logo in neon colors. And a polo-and-skirt combo had myriad phrases emulating the title design of films, including “Coco Chanel Presents,” “Chanel Days,” and “Three Cambon Girls.” Net fascinators, the de rigueur accessory for femme fatales, were also in abundance.
Still, the archetype Viard portrayed was not the wanton woman, nor the ingenue. Like most heroines in French New Wave cinema, she was a combination of both. She dressed freely (white crochet dresses and palazzo pants in fuchsia with a bandeau top under a pleated cape) on some occasions, and like a boss (black tweed suits with pronounced white collars and roomy tweed blazers with matching double-breasted vests) when she meant business. She was a complex character, resolute in her opinions, and, at times, irreverent in her actions.
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