“An artist always paints his own portrait. You’ll never paint that flower.” Such are the clipped words of the fictional young poet Jacques Cégeste as he wafts through the poignant plot of Testament of Orpheus (1960). Part painstaking self-portrait and part cinematic swansong, the film was a fitting curtain call to French filmmaker, poet, and screenwriter Jean Cocteau’s genre-defying career—one that dabbled in both the dark and light of an illustrious life lived.
Six decades on, Cocteau’s surrealist touch makes its way to Virginie Viard’s drawing board for Chanel’s cruise 2022 collection. And given Cocteau’s storied friendship with Gabrielle Chanel—during which he had penned her a letter referring to her work as a “kind of miracle”—Viard’s ode isn’t far removed from a lovingly-penned reply. Set against the white walls of the Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence—where the last of Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy was filmed—the collection stays true to the motto of contrast. The result? A rock-meets-elegant cocktail of monochrome tweed, slinky fishnet stockings, luscious leather separates, macramé capes and crisp white dresses, with clever hints of pinks, violets, and blues. This sentiment is echoed in the collection’s finer details too. Think: silver Mary Janes, ’60s-inspired white boots, multi-layered beaded necklaces, and logo-emblazoned lip rings.
Viard’s attention to detail is apparent beyond the runway, as well. Before the show, the fashion house released a selection of six outfits lensed by Dutch creative duo Inez & Vinoodh in Gabrielle Chanel’s storied 31 rue Cambon residence, which Cocteau frequently visited. Peppered with trinkets of age-old charm and modernity alike, the images—featuring model Lola Nicon—and the flurry of white doves released as the show wrapped up brought one thing home: nostalgia can often be the best kind of inspiration.