The day before presenting her Chanel resort collection on a sandy runway slicing through the pebbles of the Hotel Monte-Carlo Beach, the brand’s artistic director Virginie Viard was in a nostalgic mood. Viard was reminiscing about happy times spent in La Vigie, the tiny, monied principality in which he lived and rented the exceptional Belle Epoque Villa La Vigie, as she dressed her models with jewelry that was adorned with seashells and dolphins. Viard recalled Lagerfeld photographing Linda and Christy on terraces in this villa’s spring 1991 collection. She said, “That was very funny,” and added that she loved La Vigie. At the end I was here every year: for the Bal de la Rose, with Karl, [Princesses] Caroline, Charlotte, for shootings…We would always go to Rampoldi, Karl’s favorite restaurant.”
It was those memories of Princess Caroline and her equally beauteous daughter Princess Charlotte (several of whose birthdays and whose wedding Viard attended, and who sat at the show next to French rapper Abd al Malik and across the pontoon from South Korean rapper G-Dragon) that infused the spirit of the collection, as well as a playful take on what else Monte Carlo means to the designer–“the casino, Helmut Newton’s girls, the car races…we like to play with all the cliches!” As Viard added, the inspiration drew on collective memories. Sofia Coppola, for example, who shot the resort collection this season with Roman, recalled a trip she took to see Ayrton Senna compete in the Monaco Grand Prix – “noisy and glamorous, exciting!” Coppola said. They were then all invited to La Vigie. Roman said that the linens were what made it so luxurious. The beds!”)
Thinking of those races by way of Charlie’s Angels, Viard dressed her girls in a racing driver’s all-in-ones and mechanic’s overalls, although these were sequined and, perhaps, designed as trompe l’oeil jacket and pant combinations. Silk prints with waving starter flags were made into drifting skirts of chiffon to touch the ankles. Tweeds were woven using images from massed cars along the tracks and abstracted onto the loom into shimmering asphalt gray and bright primaries. A mini, full-face helmet for the driver is a great option. This is a must-have for Chanel lovers. If you are a racing fan, there is a real helmet for that. If you’re so inclined, there are also shorts for wrestling, biking, sweaters and rackets.
The Helmut Newton inspired shirt dresses had a very sexy look. There were also a variety of minis and shorts to match the promise of summer. It was evident in the 19Mateliers’ craftmanship through touches such as the silk flower bouquets, the evening slink with feather fronds (both provided by Lemarie), the clever t-shirts that were sequined to resemble racing driver’s tops (sleeves marked with linking Cs) or the beautiful floreate embroidery by Montex and Lesage. Viard said, gazing out at the Mediterranean and to the skyline of the city, “It is very inspiring to me.” This was just like Viard’s effortless collection and her simple vision on dressing the Chanel woman today.