Returning to the Grand Palais in Paris, actress and ambassador Margaret Qualley opened Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2024 couture presentation as a giant button hung from the ceiling. Titled ‘The Button’, the show was inspired by some of the house’s enduring bonds to the arts.
“Chanel brings out emotions in me that I use for inspiration, collection after collection,” said creative director Virginie Viard in the shownotes. “My mission is to find new ways to tell its most beautiful stories.”
With today’s rapid turnover in fashion, we’re left to wonder what it is that forms our connection to clothes. Why don’t we wear pieces for long? Well, because they wear, especially when cherished. For the House of Chanel, though, these details can prove to be as much a part of the design as the original conception. As alluded to in the show’s teaser, where Qualley is seen fervently pursuing a tailor at 31 Rue Cambon to alert her to a missing button, actress Anna Mouglalis explains the intention of leaving a single button loose so that Qualley could eventually learn this lesson: “There is beauty within the imperfections of time.”
Directed by Dave Free and scored by Kendrick Lamar, the clip turns focus to a small but vital code of the house. For Gabrielle Chanel, buttons were a symbol of emancipation. This little innovation of convenience once unlocked a world where women were free from the tyranny of strict fastenings and the lengthy and dependent processes around dressing. It served as an emblem of our autonomy, and thus, it became a pillar of the house. For the Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture show, Qualley was dressed in the same fitted white tweed jacket with the absent button, smiling as she proudly donned the fault.
Across 57 looks, there was a strong theme of lightness, the kind that only Chanel can convey given the arduous hours and skill it takes to fashion these very pieces. As explained by Viard, inspiration for this collection’s more whimsical side was driven by another field close to the house’s heart: ballet.
“I often think about dance, and it’s an important theme at Chanel,” wrote Viard. “The house is close to its institutions, to its choreographers and dancers, and we create costumes for the ballet. I have tried to bring together the power and finesse of bodies and clothes in a very ethereal collection composed of tulle, ruffles, pleats and lace.”
Influences were clearly present in the long-sleeve leotards layered under cropped tops and gowns, frothy tiers of tulle and sheer fabrics layered over each other, and every model’s white ballet tights—which are bound to be a 2024 staple. Chanel’s closing Bride took form in a crotch-skimming number with sheer panelling on the decolletage and ballooning tulle sleeves that connected to a train.
Marking a century since Chanel first designed for the ballet, the SS24 couture show reflected in its artistry the strength and form demanded of such grace in movement. Just as there is tireless work poured into dance, there is so much behind these clothes—even a button has a story to tell.
This story first appeared on GRAZIA International.