Virginie Viard Revisits the Camellia for Chanel FW23

The Chanel Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection is a more bohemian coded collection for the brand, as Creative Director Virginie Viard continues to cement her idea of the contemporary Chanel woman.

Virginie Viard has been inspired by the camellia as a signature design motif throughout the history of the Parisian fashion house for her Fall 2023 ready-to-wear collection. The presentation was an exercise in reduction, with the vast majority of looks being created in grayscale, save for a few accents of dusty rose throughout. “The camellia is more than a theme, it’s an eternal code of the House,” explained Viard on her inspiration from the flower. “I find it reassuring and familiar, I like its softness and its strength”. 

The influence of the camellia physically manifested itself both in print and 3D forms throughout the collection. Tweed jackets and horizontally striped dresses have been created out of black and white prints where the flower blossoms throughout. In an ephemeral materialization, feather embellishments take the form of the flower in otherwise straightforward black knit sweaters, while elsewhere as a more hardy form, collars on leather trench coats have been engulfed in matching leather blossoms.

Conceptually, the garden inspiration has led Viard to create garments that seem more bohemian in their construction. Quite a sizable offering of suits contain bermuda shorts rather than full-length trousers, often paired with delicate floral lace tights that cover the rest of the leg. Biker shorts are also used quite consistently, either created out of the aforementioned lace or in crystal-embellished offerings, while tweed bloomers give a quirky sensibility when paired with more classic suit jackets.

 “The faded colours, the dusky pink, the crafted pieces, the touches of 1960s and 70s, a certain English vibe, the comfortable, enveloping coats, the authentic materials, make the collections more real, and more charming too,” explained Viard.

As Viard continues to forge her own path at Chanel since her appointment as creative director in 2019, it is clear that she is becoming more and more comfortable in asserting her more laid-back vision of what the Chanel woman can be. Viard’s references to the storied fashion house are consistently plentiful, here most clearly in the camellia motif, yet it is clear that the designer is passionate about modernizing the brand. This focus on a more wearable offering from Chanel conveniently falls in line with the past fashion month having a severe emphasis on the importance of paring-back designs — yet this sense of fashion essentialism has created a platform for Viard’s contemporary view of the house to sing.

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