Virginie Viard cites her predecessor and several house ambassadors as muses.

To say that the shadow of Karl Lagerfeld looms large over Chanel would be something of an understatement. With his instantly-recognizable head of white hair (always tied back into a low ponytail) and signature dark sunglasses, headline-making quips and over-the-top runways, he is arguably the most famous fashion designer of the last 50 years. 

And while current creative director Virginie Viard hasn’t shied away from acknowledging the enormous legacy of her predecessor and mentor, she’s definitely forged her own path at the French fashion house. Her shows, while still blockbuster-level, are more restrained, her collections more subtle. 

So it was something of a surprise when Chanel unveiled its Cruise 2022 collection in Monte-Carlo on Thursday and Lagerfeld was cited as one of Viard’s key muses.

“To me, Monaco is a matter of feelings above all. That’s Karl, Caroline, Charlotte,” she says in the show notes. (That would be Caroline and Charlotte Casiraghi, members of the Monégasque royal family and longtime friends of the house.) “From very early on, I knew we would hold a show there, and more precisely at the Beach Hotel. Besides, Karl was dreaming about it. From this magnificent venue, one can glimpse his villa, La Vigie. I will never forget the times I spent there: terraces and balconies, big umbrellas, baskets of flowers – so much beauty.”

Sofia and Roman Coppola worked together on teaser trailers for the collection — this is Chanel, the Marvel of fashion, so of course collections get teaser trailers — placing the pieces firmly in the context of this jet-set, glamorous locale: We see models diving into clear blue pools, racing sleek speedboats across the open sea, jumping into fast cars, all interspersed with archival photos from the brand’s past jaunts in Monaco.

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