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Chanel in Monaco: ‘Our Town’ by Way of the Grimaldis and the Go-Go’s

The Met Gala, in full ostentatious, crowd-pleasing costumery, returned this week, flooding the fashion news cycle. Ditto the hordes of fans jostling outside of fashion shows, and the audience scrums inside.

So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that destination shows, the traveling extravaganzas featuring the in-between collections most often known as “cruise” or “resort” or sometimes just “winter” — held in front of an audience of V.I.C.s (very important clients) and “invited” press all generally flown in for the event (not The New York Times, which does not accept free travel) — have likewise returned: and not just in the random, once in-a-while shape they took on over the last two years, but in critical mass.

All that industry soul-searching that took place at the beginning of the pandemic about whether this was an opportunity to dial the system back, engage in right-seasoning, slow the hamster wheel of shows and stuff and try for a reset? Faded, apparently, into the mists of Covid past. The temptation of beautiful baubles and the promise of escapism being too great, apparently, to resist. Not to mention the eyeballs and Instagram posts that come with importing a glamorous guest list to a glossy, inaccessible location.

First past the post this time was Chanel, which unveiled its 2022-23 cruise collection on Thursday by the white sands of the Hotel Monte-Carlo Beach in Monaco, guests sheltering under the shade of striped cabana beds. It will be followed, in the next weeks, by Louis Vuitton in San Diego; Gucci in Puglia, Italy; Balenciaga in New York; and Dior in Seville, Spain, each with their own special justification for being (though probably not with an explanation for how all that travel aligns with the pledges to reach net-zero emissions).

As for why Monaco, Virginie Viard, Chanel’s creative director, said in her show notes it was “a matter of feeling,” and memory: From the beach, guests could see La Vigie, the elaborate belle epoque villa leased by the former Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, where he would often entertain Chanel-favorites Princesses Caroline and Stephanie of Monaco, as well as Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi, currently a face of Chanel.

Indeed, the collection, which was teased by a short film from Sofia and Roman Coppola featuring Formula 1 racecars, casinos, models on motorboats, and a series of archival images of Grace Kelly and co., all set to the tune of the Go-Go’s song “This Town,” might have been subtitled “The Monaco princesses: the 1980s years.” That’s the era of Chanel’s heritage where Ms. Viard seems to feel most at home.

And it was pretty easy to imagine the Grimaldis in their full Paris Match magazine catnip glory night-clubbing away in the sequin-sprinkled mechanic’s tweed jumpsuits, the bouclé sweatpants, the short suits and leather biker jackets that paraded by. Ditto the chiffon tea dresses printed with black and white checkered starting flags, and seaside-striped tuxedo shirt dresses. Not to mention the novelty handbags, in the form of racing helmet heads and tennis rackets. Fun with clichés and aristos.

Though whether anyone else who lived through that period would also want to revisit it remains something of a question.

Caroline and Stephanie themselves have left their party princess past behind. As for the generation that didn’t experience it the first time around, they generally like to thrift their ironic rediscovery.

Or at least look as if they had. Enter Hedi Slimane and Celine, the rare exception to the destination-show revival. Mr. Slimane, after all, doesn’t like to play by anyone’s rules but his own. So rather than travel for his winter 2022 show, he dropped a surprise short runway film entitled “Dans Paris.”

Set in the newly renovated 18th-century gilded Hotel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde, as well as the courtyard of the Invalides — the building where Napoleon is buried and where Mr. Slimane has constructed a modernist black box for his shows — the mini-movie featured his usual cast of stompy, skinny youth (including Lisa from Black Pink) marching through the empty rooms in a wardrobe of separates that, as has become his signature, resembled nothing so much as a deep dive into a closet of bourgeois Parisian platitudes remixed into cool.

See jeans with fuzzy metallic jackets; black turtlenecks worn with a chunky gold chain around the neck and under trench coats; sequin skirts under slouchy sweatshirts; and bottom-grazing leather mini dresses with lug-soled motorcycle boots. There were even fair isle sweaters paired with leopard print skirts (not your mother’s grunge).

Everything had a bag, and a boot and a pair of dark sunglasses. The point being impossible to miss — or resist, for that matter: Have celebrity specs, will travel.

That’s some shade.

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