Grace Kelly’s royal granddaughter opens Chanel Spring/Summer 2022 haute couture show in equestrian style

Charlotte Casiraghi makes a spectacular entrance on horseback.

Charlotte Casiraghi opened the Spring/Summer 2022 haute couture show for Chanel astride Kuskus, her Spanish bay (All photos: Chanel)

There is a popular quote by TS Eliot on how it is the journey, not the arrival, that matters. But in the case of Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2022 haute couture show, held on Jan 25 in Paris, the spectacular entrance, made by a black tweed and sequinned Chanel jacket-wearing Charlotte Casiraghi on horseback, ensured this particular beginning was the true moment of consequence.

Casiraghi kick-started what was, even by the industry’s exacting standards, an epic show, conceptualised by Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard, together with artist Xavier Veilhan, who conceived the setting’s graphic décor, and author-composer Sebastien Tellier the music.

“The idea for the show’s décor came from a long-standing desire to work with Xavier Veilhan,” says Viard. “His references to constructivism remind me of those of Karl Lagerfeld. I like this similarity of spirit between us, now and across time. In addition to creating the décor, with its references to the avant-gardes of the 1920s and 1930s, Xavier wanted to work with Charlotte Casiraghi. His artistic universe is full of horses and Charlotte is a skilled rider.”


Softness, lightness and femininity were woven throughout each of the designs

For those unfamiliar with the equestrienne’s name, Casiraghi is the second child and only daughter of Princess Caroline of Monaco and the late Italian industrialist, Stefano Casiraghi. Her maternal grandparents are HSH Prince Rainier of Monaco and American actress and Hollywood legend Grace Kelly, making her 11th in line to the Monegasque throne. A celebrated beauty on the European social circuit, the 35-year-old model and film producer juxtaposed her other roles — accomplished horsewoman and Chanel brand ambassador — to open the highly anticipated show in unforgettable style by jauntily trotting down the runway of the Grand Palais Éphémère before breaking into a full canter on her beautiful Spanish bay horse. The audience’s reaction? Sheer delight.

“One effect that we and Virginie Viard were intent on getting into the show was Charlotte’s entrance on horseback, opening the way for the models and the clothes, which would contrast with the beauty of the rider and the horse,” Veilhan explains. “The concept that I suggested to Virginie is a sort of garden, an open structure, something to do with both a mini-golf course and a showjumping course for horses. It was also a way of aligning the very strong aesthetics of the horse with those of haute couture and seeing how refinement and animality can combine.”


Designed by Virginie Viard, the collection boasts innate lightness, spectacular craftsmanship and graphic contrasts

Casiraghi weighs in saying, “I immediately think of the story of Chanel and Gabrielle Chanel. Horses and riding were extremely important, if not instrumental, in her vision of fashion. You can feel that Virginie Viard [also] has an attraction to and an affection for horses. Her eyes light up when she sees a horse. I rode a lot at one time, but in the past three or four years, very little. So I was a bit scared of not being able to do what Xavier wanted.”

“With Charlotte and the horse at the opening, we were not sure what might happen, but risk is always exciting,” adds Tellier. “And a fashion show must create excitement!”

Although Tellier uses the noun “excitement” when describing the show’s desired result, the adjective “ethereal” somehow seems more fitting, dreamily echoing the diaphanous fluidity of Viard’s creations. Softness, lightness and femininity were woven throughout each of the designs, from a soft, round-collared four-pocket coat dress in white and ivory to a jacket paired with flared trousers in lapis blue tweed woven with sequins and ribbons. The classic Chanel suit was also reinvented, this time boasting a round-neck hourglass jacket trimmed with contrasting crystal braids and worn with matching wide trousers in a fusion of structure and drape.



To accompany the models, Tellier performed a series of new tracks, especially composed for the occasion, live on oversized instruments as well as the Cristal Baschet, a rare crystal organ from the Studio Venezia of the French Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

“I think that my music for this show can highlight details and reflections. Virginie listens to music with her heart. She listens to the feelings music arouses in her. Which is crucial. So I knew that for the music to match her creations, I would have to explore something touching, with emotion. [But] the star of the show isn’t the music. The stars are the clothes.”

Fans of popular culture might, by now, find it tempting to compare Casiraghi’s grand entrance to that of another monumental equestrian moment when fashion icon Bianca Jagger famously entered storied New York hot spot Studio 54 on a white horse for her 32nd birthday party. Comparison, as we all know, is a waste of time. One thing we can agree upon unanimously, however, is that a beautiful new verse in the annals of Paris’ legendary couture shows has just been written.


This article first appeared on Feb 7, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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