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Chanel couture makes a subdued ode to Parisian elegance in fall-winter collection

PARIS (AP) — The cobblestoned banks of the Seine River served as the stage for Chanel’s latest haute couture collection.
A model wears a creation for the Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2023-2024 fashion collection presented in Paris, Tuesday, July 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — The cobblestoned banks of the Seine River served as the stage for Chanel’s latest haute couture collection. With the Eiffel Tower in the distance, the well-heeled glitterati of the fashion world navigated the uneven terrain for an outdoor collection that celebrated the soul of Paris.

Mimicking the famed bouquinistes, those charming bookstalls lining the river’s edge, Chanel erected its own renditions. But upon closer examination, these weren't ordinary stalls. They were artfully curated homages to the brand’s legacy, showcasing biographies of the legendary Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and postcards of actresses associated with the house, such as Vanessa Paradis, a modern incarnation of the Parisienne, who applauded from the front row.

Here are some highlights of Tuesday’s fall couture collections, including when The Associated Press caught up with French actress Clémence Poésy.


“This collection is the portrait of a sensitive yet bold Parisienne," said Virginie Viard, Chanel's creative director. "It’s like standing on a line between strength and delicacy.”

Tuesday's assembly of tweeds, silk chiffons, organza and inlaid lace, in a myriad of floral and graphic motifs, was a testament to Viard’s vision of this rich and feminine universe.

Despite the sparkle and gleam of golden heels and buttons, the collection embraced a comforting simplicity.

Assured yet understated colors, flat-pleated golden tweed skirts, masculine-inspired overcoats, and delicately structured jackets all played into the subtle allure of the show. A standout piece was a dark blue asymmetrical coat-skirt with feathery tulle cascading from the lapel, fusing asymmetry with Chanel’s codes of rigor.

At one point, a model sauntered down the runway walking a black dog, a seemingly whimsical addition that had onlookers snapping away on their cameras. But perhaps the most quintessential Parisian touch was a fruit basket — a homage to the Parisienne of the 1970s.

Viard described her approach as, “Handing down emotions, bringing the most unlikely elements together, doing things your own way, just dreaming.” And through this collection, she masterfully transported us all to Paris, offering an emotional tribute to the enduring allure of the Parisienne, right on the quayside of the Seine.


French actress and “Harry Potter” alum Clémence Poésy was in attendance at Chanel, and it seems the allure of the Seine-side “bouquinistes” had her under a spell. The scene, recreated by the house, was a charming tribute to Paris’ iconic riverside bookshops, so beloved by locals and tourists alike.

“There was a Parisian essence, being on the quayside of the Seine and having the bouquinistes in the beginning,” Poésy told the AP, her eyes alight with the magic of the show. “It felt like traveling through many eras of Parisians.”

The actress was especially enchanted by the French stalwart's playful nod to Paris’ past, which invoked images of both the ’70s and new wave cinema. But it was the bouquinistes — a regular fixture of her weekends — that truly captivated her.

“You stroll along the Seine and go into all these vintage and secondhand bookshops along the river and bridges,” she explained, recalling her routine. “You usually find something you would never buy anywhere else.”

Chanel’s unique on-brand installation, she chuckled, was decidedly “not your usual bouquiniste.” She added, with a fond smile, “I hope it stays there forever. It’s such a precious thing.”


French actress Anna Mouglalis, known for her role as Chanel in the movie “Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky,” unraveled the romantic tale behind the creation of the iconic little black dress (LBD) in an interview with the AP.

Mouglalis, a current Chanel ambassador, said: “I fell in love with Coco Chanel when I studied for the role. I read everything."

Mouglalis disclosed the heartbreaking story behind Chanel’s universally adored LBD. Coco Chanel, devastated by the tragic death of her lover, Arthur “Boy” Capel, incorporated her mourning attire into her fashion line, giving birth to the LBD. Capel, apart from being Chanel’s great love, was also instrumental in helping her open her first store.

“It was incredible that the little black dress was made because she was mourning for Boy Capel. She never married. She loved him, it was her big love,” Mouglalis shared. “She was wounded and put the mourning into her fashions. Everything is so linked to her personal story.”


A rare commodity in the couture world - space - was generously offered by Giorgio Armani Privé on Tuesday night. VIPs gathered amid theatrical sidelights, hemmed in by giant beige silk curtains, emphasizing the private, exclusive nature of the occasion. The scene was set on a runway streaked with shiny squares of black and white, an ode to Armani’s couture trademark of geometry and sheen.

The collection unfolded, a vibrant blossoming of structured jackets shimmering with twinkling threads and 3D floral appliqués, transforming seamlessly into billowing, gleaming floor-length gowns. One standout blue jacket, encrusted with jewels, evoked visions of marine crystal formations, showcasing Armani’s detail-oriented craftsmanship.

Playful whimsy punctuated the collection with sculptural, giant black hoops encircling one model’s figure, as well as one slightly awkwardly-moving top constructed in poppies. The gleam remained constant, a kaleidoscope of rainbow hues reflecting off the luxurious fabrics.

However, amidst the extravagant display, a minimalist yet stunning black velvet dress stole the show. Couture’s chic answer to Morticia Addams, the floor-length gown was backless, tastefully embellished at the rear. It was a stunning reminder that in the world of Armani, simple elegance often outshines the grandeur.


Imagine an elite Parisian fashion party; a blend of modern sophistication, effortless glamour, and a dash of playful spirit. This is the essence Alexis Mabille captured in his fall couture.

From the get-go, Mabille set the tone with a black floor-length dress that danced the line between fluidity and allure. Models graced the runway holding empty crystal champagne coupes, conjuring up images of a high-fashion soiree in the City of Light.

Playfulness met artistry as Mabille used his signature bows to sculpt a dress, while his enduring love for floral themes bloomed as white chest adornments.

As Parisian as a moonlit walk along the Seine, the collection boasted lacy bustiers atop sheer black Sahara pants, conjuring a modern yet sensual aesthetic.

In a pulse-quickening turn, the collection ignited with disco-era vigor. A radiant, earth-toned one-shoulder tunic gown brought a hint of the dancefloor to the runway, and a '70s-inspired magenta pleated skirt swirled with lively movement.


In true unapologetic Stéphane Rolland fashion, a Big Black Dress (BBD) opened his fall couture show. Complete with a provocative leg split and an exaggerated, whooshing collar, this piece was quintessentially Rolland, marrying structural audacity with elegant form.

The collection evolved from this daring opener, introducing more poetic designs that nonetheless maintained Rolland’s raciness.

One gargantuan white skirt was fashioned from paper-like sheets of silk. In a triumphant fusion of Marie Antoinette’s lavishness, punk’s rebellious spirit, and origami’s meticulous precision, this ensemble captured the whimsy and grandeur that define Rolland’s couture.

Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press