The ‘80s and ‘90s Are Officially Back
In the spirit of Karl Lagerfeld, who continually paid homage to his predecessor as the self-proclaimed “Channeler of Coco,” creative director Virginie Viard is reviving Chanel’s most iconic designs of decades past. Inspired by the flash photography and elevated runways of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the Chanel Spring-Summer 2022 show at the temporary Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris was nostalgic, whimsical and romantic all at once. “I used to love the sound of flashbulbs going off at the shows in the ’80s,” Viard expressed in her notes. “I want to recapture that emotion.” And, she did just that. From the clothes and accessories to the staging and soundtrack, Viard channeled the spirit and energy of the supermodel era in each facet of her Chanel show. Staged in a replica of the Carrousel du Louvre–which hosted much of Paris Fashion Week during the ‘80s and ‘90s–a raised runway was surrounded by old-school show photographers and taken over by smiling, hair-flipping, strutting models.
Widely considered a “golden period” for Chanel, Viard made a bold risk by transporting her audience to Lagerfeld’s most prized era of creation. Inspired by his supermodel muses of the ‘90s, Karl Lagerfeld produced some of his most iconic (and highly sought-after) designs for Chanel during this time of retro glamor and spunk. As such, it seemed only fitting that Viard honor Lagerfeld’s love for bold, vibrant designs in this throwback collection. With a primary palette of lilac, pink and yellow, models sported monochrome swimsuits, bright tweed suits, and knit sets adorned with interlocking C’s. A fitting complement to the collection’s colorful, sequined garments, jewelry was over-accessorized in a perfectly ‘80s way. From neon hoops and oodles of necklaces to chunky, chain belts, the visual effect of these modern interpretations was striking. Virginie Viard captured the gleeful, lighthearted joy of the ‘80s and ‘90s by tapping into the essence of this time that vintage hunters and Chanel lovers continue to seek.
A Handbag Moment
When he came onboard Chanel in 1983, Karl Lagerfeld turned an aging fashion house into the ultimate status symbol, and his earliest handbag designs are a testament to the enduring power of his vision. As such, his inaugural designs from the ‘80s and ‘90s have remained the most highly sought after pieces for vintage Chanel hunters. His radical riffs on the iconic motifs and classic designs of Chanel were unexpected and immediately coveted. From the immediate success of the reinterpreted Classic Flap to the sleek design of the Camera Bag, the ‘80s are solidified in fashion history as Lagerfeld’s breakout era. From that moment on, all he had to do was keep the momentum alive, and the Vanity Case and Diana Bag were just two of Karl Lagefeld’s ingenious creations during the ‘90s.
So, for the most impassioned Chanel vintage aficionado, the handbag accessories were the highlight of the Spring-Summer 2022 collection. Dramatically oversized quilted totes, candy-pink vanity cases, and bags shaped like hearts and No. 5 perfume bottles took center stage, proving that vintage fashion is more than just a micro-trend blowing up in niche corners of the resale market. As Chanel’s lust worthy, modern interpretations make clear, the ‘80s and ‘90s really are back.