Purple Magazine
— The Essence of Fashion Issue #41 S/S 2024

chanel s/s 2024


Chanel S/S 2024


Delphine Danhier, style

Felice Nova Noordhoff, model

Louis Ghewy at M+A World Group, hair

Adrien Pinault at M+A World Group, make-up

Willy Cuylits and Thomas Jardin, photographer’s assistants

Yakiv Kotlik, stylist’s assistant

Cinq Etoiles, production


Villa E-1027 designed and built by Eileen Gray, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, 1926-29

photographed by Maxime Ballesteros

all furniture by Eileen Gray, copyright centre des monuments nationaux





OLIVIER ZAHM — Is the essence of the Chanel brand all about women?

VIRGINIE VIARD — Yes. Chanel — before being a style, recognizable among all — is first and foremost a free woman who changed the relationship with clothing. What I want is to directly touch the hearts of women. I want them to be at their best and to feel free.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Where does your sense of fashion come from?

VIRGINIE VIARD — I have always loved fashion. My family was part of the textile industry in Lyon, along the Saône River. My great-grandfather produced silk. Then my grandfather diversified the business by working for many ready-to-wear brands, like Agnès b. My grandmother dressed in Sonia Rykiel, my aunts in Saint Laurent. They wore all the great designers of that time. And for the technical aspects, I was trained by my grandmother, who taught me how to sew.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It was the ’70s and ’80s, a time when there was a direct connection to clothing through the importance of local boutiques. It relied less on brand image, on the hyper mediatization that surrounds fashion today. Do you protect yourself from this world of fashion images that continue to proliferate?

VIRGINIE VIARD — You’re right, you know, I don’t even have Instagram. I’ve been in the Chanel workshops since the beginning of my career. When I started with Karl Lagerfeld, right here, it was still a small company. Karl did everything — the drawings, the casting, the runway ideas, the images, the advertising. Everything originated here on Rue Cambon.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You had over 30 years of uninterrupted work with Karl. It’s an incredible life experience…

VIRGINIE VIARD — Since 1987! How can one stay by the side of the same creator for 30 years, I don’t know… It went by in a flash.

OLIVIER ZAHM — With Karl, time seemed to fly. There was never a moment of respite with him, except when we waited for him for a long time. It was constantly a new situation, a new idea, a discussion that lasted, photos until the end of the night. You were caught in a whirlwind of work with him. What memories of Karl do you hold dear?

VIRGINIE VIARD — He taught me everything about the profession and Chanel. But it’s true that during those years with him, I was somewhat confined to Karl’s universe. And I have a very different character. I appreciate a certain level of discretion, contrary to what today’s world demands. It’s not about shyness; it’s a choice. Chanel is what matters above all. Today, I am
fortunate to be able to express my sensitivity, my vision of Chanel, thanks to what I built with him. What I love is contact, encounters, sharing with people… Inez and Vinoodh bring me a lot, for example. I also have many conversations with Charlotte Casiraghi and others around me who work with me. I take the time for that.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Chanel has always been an artistic, intellectual, and friendly salon, not just workshops and collections. Gabrielle Chanel always surrounded herself with artists and personalities who were meant to inspire her.

VIRGINIE VIARD — Exactly. I feel the same need.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Chanel truly changed the way women dress, by introducing not only elements of menswear and sportswear into their wardrobes but also freedom of movement. It was a feminine revolution through clothing — but also in the way of speaking, loving, and seeing oneself as a woman in a world that was 99.9% masculine at the time. Mademoiselle Chanel said: “I don’t make fashion. I am fashion.” Do you think of her when you embark on a new collection?

VIRGINIE VIARD — Yes, she embodied her fashion. I certainly know all her photos, but I’m not sure if I think about her specifically. It’s completely integrated within me as I have been thinking about it for so long!

OLIVIER ZAHM — Chanel also said: “Fashion fades. Only style remains.”

VIRGINIE VIARD — I identify with that phrase. For Chanel, at least, it’s what I prefer: style. I don’t chase after trends, the new thing that works, novelty for novelty’s sake.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Chanel: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must be different.”

VIRGINIE VIARD — Absolutely. Not to be dressed like others, but like oneself. That’s true eccentricity for me: personality.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Chanel: “Simplicity is the key to elegance.”

VIRGINIE VIARD — I am very sensitive to the idea of simplicity. Sometimes, I want things more raw, more austere, or essential, even though Chanel is also about colors, life, and accessories. What interests me is the contrast, this oscillation between simplicity and excess, doing too much. I am in between.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Chanel: “Luxe is not the opposite of poverty. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” Is Chanel ultimately a Parisian bastion against the vulgarity of fashion, and against a lowering of taste?

VIRGINIE VIARD — Yes, to some extent, I agree. It’s not that I cling to this idea of taste or luxury. My concern is more about being fair. With each collection, each proposed theme, each runway show, I seek to maintain a certain fairness, meaning, and depth. However, it’s not for me to say if I succeed. In the end, the universal aspect of Chanel must also be respected.

OLIVIER ZAHM — This universality of Chanel is still very surprising. All women can project themselves into Chanel. Perhaps more than other major brands, which limit their vision of women to a very restricted fashion image.

VIRGINIE VIARD — Chanel is, above all, a way of being and expressing one’s personality.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s also an elevation. Chanel elevates women to the world of luxury or toward an almost intellectual discipline. There is an intellectual dimension to Chanel.

VIRGINIE VIARD — Yes, I feel it that way, too. And that was the case throughout her life, with all the people she associated with.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And what about the relationships with men? Chanel doesn’t have a men’s collection. Gabrielle Chanel was one of the first feminists, although she distanced herself from feminism in the ’70s. But she didn’t have an easy relationship with men. Chanel said, “You need beauty to be loved by men, and stupidity to love them.” And, “No man will make you feel as secure as a cashmere coat and a pair of black glasses.”

VIRGINIE VIARD — It’s still relevant today. [Laughs]

OLIVIER ZAHM — Is Chanel a protection against men?

VIRGINIE VIARD — It’s not a way to protect oneself from men — or women, for that matter, or others, or even love. It’s just a way to be free. And strong.


[Table of contents]

The Essence of Fashion Issue #41 S/S 2024

Table of contents

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