There was optimism and nostalgia on the Channel’s Spring 2022 runway, where Virginia Wired paid tribute to the house’s 80s and 90s collections and the glory of the supermodel era, and celebrity guests shook their heads as models on a cover by George Michael’s 90s music “Freedom.” In fact, Virginia’s collection was steeped in throwback references পুর old school show photographers pulling enthusiastic models off the line, complete with logo-embellished tees and accessories, high-cut swimsuits, and a purse-shaped purse shaped like an iconic no. 5 bottles that all point to our current obsession with the 90s. It was pleasing and light-minded, sexy and fun, complete with pelvic cutouts and a re-creation of Virginia’s 90s denim.
Thinking anew, I’m scared, that’s where it stops. Although Virginia’s designs tap into the relevance of nostalgic trends, giving them contemporary updates, the runway itself fails to meet that moment. The nostalgic lens with which the show was cast, in fact, it was so powerful, it told basically the same story that we saw on the runway in the 90’s and hoped to get out of it in 2022. Again, we’ve seen thin white women in the center of the collection, opening the show in high-cut swimsuits, tucking the “supermodel body” of the t0s into a clear display that literally mimics the cultural moments of the 80’s and 90’s, rather than Instead of reference and going beyond that.
The nostalgic lens with which the show was cast is, in fact, so powerful, that it basically told the same story we saw on the runways of the 90s and hoped to get out of it in 2022.
In an era where Rihanna’s Savage show General Z has become a gold standard for representation – where we’ve seen all of their different sizes (not to mention race and gender) look normal on the runway – the channel was so consumed with the restored past fashion that moment missed? And more, did we become so blinded by the staging and performance – the time capsules presented in Paris today – that we forgot to ask?
Above: Jill Cortlev is the only curve model to walk on the Channel Runway.
It’s easy to get bogged down in showmanship – it’s part of the channel’s DNA since Carl Lagerfeld’s legendary production – but when Virginia’s contemporaries, especially Balenciaga and Demna Gavasalia in Donatella, seem to be moving the conversation forward. This is ironic for a brand that is clearly providing young customers with an attack of bra tops, chokers and low-slang pants. The channel has apparently delivered vintage-inspired clothing that General Z wants, all wrapped in pretty sized packaging.
It adds a missed opportunity – to rethink the failures of the fashion industry in the 80s and 90s and to tell that story again with the 2022 lens. Of course, there was a lot of style here, the lack of clothes and accessories that we want to wear or the alluring pieces you will see on Instagram next season in the form of 72 collections. But I have to argue that if Chanel gives more visibility to the runway curves – and Jill Cortlave is just where the curve presentation started and didn’t end – I think Virginie would accept the substance that was missing in the 90’s.