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“You couldn’t ask for a better backdrop to a runway show than the Cité radieuse,” said Chanel’s Virginie Viard of the venue for her Cruise 24/25 collection. Her models defied Marseille’s mistral wind and rain taking to the open-air performance space atop Le Corbusier’s masterpiece of utopian modernism. Built as an egalitarian “machine for living”, with a kindergarten, supermarket, doctor’s office, cafe, hotel and galleries, “streets in the sky”, concept revolutionised how people lived, just as Coco Chanel, a Le Corbusier contemporary, revolutionised the way they dressed. The dynamic, stylistic freedom Chanel gave women still resonates today, particularly with Viard who has brought a relatable sense of practicality and ease to the celebrated Chanel look.

Viard knows that the Chanel girl covets a great hoodie and hers came elongated into mini dresses and with gleaming front pockets embroidered with colourful grid motifs inspired by the modernist architecture. As well as the hoodies which peeked out from beneath vivid green tweed suits (cut above the knee for ease of moment), there were silver leather zip tops with matching mini skirts, zip-front shifts with graphic, embroidered patch pockets, towelling flip-fops and a white scuba swim suit that seemed to sum up the sporty, daytime dash of the collection. “The sun, architecture, music and dance: Marseille also has a very strong sense of freedom. I was inspired by the codes of lifestyle, of everyday life and by all the things that invite movement. The sea and the wind made me want to play with wetsuits,” she explained of her action packed, watersports inspiration.

Alongside that, there was whimsy and lashings of hand craft which paid tribute to the sea. Quirky and playful embroideries depicting fish, fishing nets, shells and shellfish decorated dresses, suit jackets, wispy blouses and little vest tops. A series of dresses in ivory ladder lace and Broaderie Anglaise were inspired by nightgowns Viard would buy as a teenager scouring vintage markets in the South of France.

“Marseille is a city that puts me in touch with my emotions. I tried to capture its power of attraction, its breath of fresh air, and to convey the energy that reigns there,” said the designer. Viard felt a strong connection to France’s second city – a place more gritty and down to earth than its glitzy costal neighbours, Cannes, St Tropez and Nice. It boasts a vibrant art, dance and music scene, which Viard eagerly keyed into, spotlighting local musicians and DJs for her riotous after party (a set by Marseille-born rapper SCH brought the house down). Alongside that, Chanel has cultural ambitions, using its clout to cross pollinate with other artistic genres. In Marseille it staged an art exhibition featuring work by local artists in collaboration with its 19M ateliers – the specialist craft houses that make everything for Chanel from the double ‘C’ buttons to the embroidery, costume jewelley and camellias.

In Marseille, Viard leaned-in to youth and wearable luxury, embracing every-day pieces but giving them the magic Chanel touch. Alongside shows in Dakar and Manchester it’s part of a broader brand strategy to ensure Chanel is relevant beyond the gilded salons of Paris. The message? Whether you are in the market for an £8,000 bag or an £80 fragrance, Chanel is reaching out to you. As Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion told newspaper reports before the show, “We don’t always want to talk about the history of Chanel – we want to be about the future. Fashion is an outlook, and it is for everyone.”