Chanel gets racy with Formula One inspired show that pays homage to Monaco's high rollers

The label showed its cruise collection at the legendary Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel

Chanel's cruise 2023 collection was a nod to the Grand Prix and high rollers for which the principality is most famous Credit: Getty Images

There are probably more Chanel tweed jackets per resident in Monaco than any other location in the world, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before the brand staged one of its shows there. 

That said, it’s also a destination known for excess: fast cars, megayachts, high stakes and very high rollers. Chanel, meanwhile, is almost the very definition of Parisian restraint. It was, after all, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ herself who one issued the advice: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

On Thursday, these two cultural entities combined in a cruise collection show that took place before the sun loungers lining the seafront at the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel - which is probably something of a catwalk on a quiet day. Guests included Chanel show regulars Sofia Coppola, Tilda Swinton, Kristen Stewart, Charlotte Casiraghi and Vanessa Paradis, who has otherwise been flying under the radar during her former husband Johnny Depp’s ongoing defamation trial in the US.

Ready, set, Monaco! Boilersuits and leather were standout themes in the collection Credit: Getty Images

So what does Monaco through the lens of Chanel look like? It’s everything you’d hope it to be. Boilersuits, lots of them, but rendered in tweed and cinched with logo belts. A slick palette of black, red, white and gold. Leather minidresses, miniskirts and cropped jackets. Checkerboard blousons and bodysuits, because Formula One, duh. More-is-more accessories including trucker caps, stacks of gold jewellery and card holders in the style of playing cards, strung around the models’ necks like the most desirable access-all-areas pass of all time (well, you’ve got to keep your black Amex somewhere). There was even a Chanel motorcycle helmet too, for the rider with serious swagger.

It’s Chanel though, so it looks chic, not outre. Delivered with the kind of nuance only Chanel - and perhaps the Monegasque royals with their Grace Kelly genes - can. It was also a love letter to a destination that held a special place in the heart of Coco Chanel who met the Duke of Westminster - a man she went on to have a 10-year relationship with - in the tiny principality, and who opened one of her first boutiques there. Karl Lagerfeld, too, chose to buy a home there and his favourite holiday villa, La Vigie, served as a venue for dinner after the show.

Accessorise all areas: playing card necklaces and a motorcycle helmet for the rider with serious swagger Credit: Getty Images

“Monaco is inherent to the history of Chanel,” said Virginie Viard, the label’s creative director and right-hand to the late Lagerfeld. “From very early on, I knew we would hold a show there, and more precisely at the Beach Hotel. Besides, Karl was dreaming about it. From this magnificent venue, one can glimpse his villa, La Vigie. I will never forget  the times I spent there: terraces and balconies, big umbrellas, baskets of flowers - so much beauty.”

This event also served as an indication of the strength of the label’s relationship with Charlotte Casiraghi, who opened the label’s couture show in Paris back in January by cantering round the catwalk on her brown bay thoroughbred, Cousco, in a sequined black tweed jacket.

Glamorous Chanel guests from left: Vanessa Paradis; Charlotte Casiraghi and Kristen Stewart Credit: Getty

Thursday’s event spoke to a different side of Charlotte’s heritage, a lighter side, celebrating the good living for which Monaco has become known. And with a war in Ukraine, spiralling gas prices and a cost of living crisis, we need some joy and levity right now. Even if looking at these images is the closest most of us are going to get to that little black jacket.