Chanel goes down a Scottish river in search of tweed for AW22
Virginie Viard's latest collection for the Parisian house was a technicolour celebration of the house's iconic wool fabric.
Images courtesy of Chanel
Come the first chill of autumn, many designers are opting for countryside cosiness. None more so than Virginie Viard, whose latest collection for Chanel was a tribute to the illustrious history of the house’s tweed. On a catwalk designed to mimic the River Tweed in Scotland, Viard sent out her tweediest collection yet, in bright poppy colours — “psychedelic,” she said — with plenty of cardigans, knitted stockings, and heavyweight layering to combat those frosty outdoor country pursuits. For the most part, Chanel’s classic tweed suits were given a cosier feel — rather than the perpendicular boxiness of the usual style — and were worn with rubber Wellies, some of them thigh-high galoshes with knitted socks just as high, in an ever-so-slightly 80s style. Perhaps it was seeing the way that Kristen Stewart wore Chanel as Princess Diana in Spencer — or the buzz around other Chanel ambassador, Tilda Swinton, in her roles in parts one and two of The Souvenir. Either way, Virginie was thinking about the patrician huntin’-shootin’-fishin’ look that has ostensibly captured the eyes of other designers over the last few weeks.
Come to think of it, we’ve seen grouse-like feathers on tweeds at Prada, rural elegance at Maximilian, sculpted Gosford Park-era tailoring at Fendi, and even the gilded interiors of country estates come to life on the Moschino catwalk. Could it be, that after a season of incendiary skin-flashing and voyeusistic cut-outs, fashion is in the mood for a quiet, cosy weekend in the country? Perhaps. But who says a weekend in the country ought to be sexless? Gabrielle Chanel, after all, spent many a racy weekend in country homes. She was famously the lover of the Duke of Westminster, and would spent plenty of time at his hunting lodge in Lochmore and on at Eaton Hall, going on long walks collecting ferns and bouquets of flowers for colour inspo — and, more significantly, borrowing her lover’s shooting tweeds and making them the basis of her own masc-femme look.
“There’s nothing sexier than wearing the clothes of the person you love,” Virginie wrote in a statement. “Of course, I’m fascinated by this ever-contemporary gesture. And it’s Chanel that renders the tweed feminine.” Hence, tweed was everywhere. The high walls were piled high in the stuff, the letters of Chanel emblazoning the catwalk, and even the seats, invitations and, of course, the collection itself. It came in myriad styles, such as cargo-pocketed utilitarian jackets, bustier dresses, bright overcoats, in Modish miniskirt suits and slouchier bumpkin bombers. The overall look was one of ease with plenty of colourful jewel tones, and a sense of comfort. After all, back when Coco borrowed from the boys and turned tweed into a womenswear staple — she did so in rebellion of wasp-waisted, corseted silhouettes. A century later, the speckled tweed suit — and the technical wizardry that Chanel can do with it — remains a hallmark that few can do better.