Chanel Resort 2023

In the fantasy vision of Monaco, there’s Grace Kelly, the Formula One Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Casino — think “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” on steroids.

And for the last century, Chanel has played a key part in the life of the tiny principality, from the opening of founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s first subsidiary here in 1913, to Karl Lagerfeld’s long friendship with Princess Caroline of Monaco and her family.

On Thursday, Virginie Viard, creative director of the French luxury brand since Lagerfeld’s death in 2019, set about writing the next chapter of the story with her cruise collection, which was equal parts homage to Princess Caroline, and tongue-in-cheek wink to the pop culture aura of the land that spawned a thousand Lagerfeld photo shoots.

Guests including Princess Caroline and her daughter Charlotte Casiraghi, who’s been a Chanel brand ambassador since 2021, gathered at the Monte-Carlo Beach hotel, a stone’s throw from Villa La Vigie, where Lagerfeld used to spend his summers in the ‘90s and lensed memorable Chanel campaigns, like the spring 1991 ads starring Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington.

Celebrities, including Kristen Stewart, Tilda Swinton, G-Dragon, Sofia Coppola and Vanessa Paradis, sat on sun loungers in striped canvas beach cabins, doing their best to ignore the overcast sky.

Charlotte Casiraghi

“I’ve been wanting to do the cruise show in Monaco for at least two years,” said Viard, marking her first resort collection with an audience outside Paris, after several years of restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was, as they say, a no-brainer. She’d been coming with Lagerfeld for years, and has known Casiraghi since she was a little girl. “In fact, I met Karl thanks to a friend of my parents who was an aide-de-camp to Prince Rainier, and who saw Karl at Charlotte’s christening and asked him if he could use an intern,” Viard recalled.

The collection was steeped in familiar references, from graphic motor racing checkered flags to crisp tennis whites and the kind of vampish swimsuit-and-tight combos that conjured the risqué glamour of a Helmut Newton image. Stewart, for one, lapped it up with all the gusto of a first-time visitor to the area.

“It kind of reminds me of a time that I’ve never lived in, so suddenly, I feel nostalgic for high heels and bathing suits, and a lot of luxury — and that’s definitely never been a part of my life,” she said with a laugh. 

“I think especially watching the clothes walk around in this environment, there was such a sort of flippant buoyancy,” she continued. “[Virginie] was clearly having so much fun. I found myself kind of laughing throughout the show. I was giggling the whole time — it makes you kind of giddy.”

Kristen Stewart