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Chanel Resort 2025

The Olympic flame arrives in Marseille by boat from Greece next week. It’s on its way to the biggest French Mediterranean port, to be passed hand-by-hand in relay up the country, ready to ignite the opening of the 2024 Paris summer games. Team Chanel got to Marseille first, though, putting on a fashion-art mini festival around its cruise 2025 show. Virginie Viard’s hooded white scuba suit, Chanel-ed up with a black bow, flew the flag for the fact that the city (the country’s second most populous after Paris) is a natural arena for water sports. The Chanel suit had acquired an athletic attitude too—a gray sweatshirt poking out of a bright green tweed jacket at the opening, while on the feet, amongst the ballet shoes, were slick black slippers that Viard laughingly described as “scuba tuxedo” shoes.

Marseille will host the Olympic sailing contests as well as the soccer tournament—and so, come July, the world will become aware that France isn’t only about Paris, for a change. Just as Chanel’s Manchester show put the focus on the uniquely hip music and industrial history of Britain’s “second” city, so it did this time for the very specific culture of Marseille.

“A lot of things are happening here. There’s a good vibe, a good energy. Because it’s a port it’s a crossroads of many different cultures living here together,” said Chanel’s President of Fashion Bruno Pavlovsky before the show. “Something’s happening that’s very strong—music, dance, art. Chanel’s coming here, he said, “is a way to discover or rediscover the creative energy that’s everywhere.”

To Viard, Marseille is a more excitingly real city than the obvious Cote d’Azur playgrounds of the South of France—and one without a connection to Coco Chanel. The show took place on the roof terrace of Le Corbusier’s emblematic Cité Radieuse building, a mid-century high-rise social housing scheme, a utopian “machine for living,” whose interiors were designed by Charlotte Perriand. “It’s really an inspiring place you’d like to live,” she exclaimed.

The chalky pastels, concrete grays, and grid-patterns of the architecture insinuated themselves into the tweed checks, mixed in with Viard’s light plays on seaside tropes like loopy open-work knits, diagonal ‘waves’ running down a skirt, and a gold necklace strung like a fishing-net. The rain lashed and the wind kicked up—the curse of the outdoor resort presentation in early summer. It blew around the sea-creature printed ruffles and the delicate patchwork lace dresses (reminiscent of the antique nightdresses Viard said she remembers being sold in markets in the south of France in her teens.)

Before the show—which was delayed by the weather—guests were free to wander the Cité Radieuse corridors—or “streets” in the sky, coming upon bookstores and vintage furniture and fashion stores, doctor’s offices, and hotel bedrooms. In 1949, The Guardian described it as “more like a town than an apartment building,” one that stood among eight acres of gardens. Amidst the block’s thriving permanent businesses, a Chanel gallery temporarily inhabited the building’s supermarket, exhibiting Jamie Hawkesworth’s photo documentary of Marseillaise women and fragments of the city’s landscapes—a collaboration with the poet Laura Vazquez. In one of the flats, the American painter Elizabeth Glaessner was showing the work she’d made in response to living there, an artist’s residency organized by Olivier Zahm of Purple magazine. Right at the end of one corridor, there was Caroline de Maigret, running Chanel radio sessions in a recording studio packed into the 1950s hotel foyer.

And this was not all. Across town, Chanel had taken over MUCEM (the Museum of Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean) to showcase an extensive series of international artist collaborations with 19M, Chanel’s artisanal workshops in Paris. Despite the downpours, the experience hit all the points. Chanel as a cultural patron, playing the role of a quasi-national ambassador for modern French society; Chanel as part of the fabric of everyday contemporary life, with a wardrobe to match.