Around the World With Chanel: A Travel Diary of the Brand’s Pre-Collection Shows From 2007 to Today

Around the World With Chanel: A Travel Diary of the Brand’s Pre-Collection Shows From 2007 to Today

When Coco Chanel created the sleek tubular silhouette of the active, modern woman back in the 1920s, fashion spoke to a smaller audience; now it addresses a global one. Not content to simply export French savoir faire and Parisian chic through the regular channels, in the mid ’00s Karl Lagerfeld started taking Chanel’s resort and Métiers d’Art (pre-fall) collections on the road, bringing the esprit de Chanel to life. Occasionally these excursions were imaginary, conjuring a far-away place from Paris, but the spirit of adventure is constant. Virginie Viard, who has continued this tradition, presented the first show by a European or American brand in sub-Saharan Africa in Senegal in 2023.

Historically there is a connection between resort and travel. Originally, these were clothes for snow birds and ski bunnies, escaping to elite gathering places. Chanel uses the mid-seasons to highlight the crafts skills of the many artisanal maisons it supports. In advance of the brand’s resort 2025 show in the port town of Marseilles, we’ve compiled a travel diary documenting Chanel’s globe-hopping pre-collections from 2007-2024. Ahoy!

Manchester, England: Pre-Fall 2024

Photo: Isidore Montag / Gorunway.com

Photo: Isidore Montag / Gorunway.com

The location: Under a glass roof constructed over Thomas Street in Manchester, England

The theme: “The Northern-girl interpretation was styled with a knowing wink to working-class ’60s-to-’80s pop culture, all side-flicked fringes and bare legs (Manchester types being nationally famed for defying the cold). …Then came the New Wave club girls, some clad in black patent leather—treated to some sort of cool rain-spattered effect—others in baby-doll dresses with bodices embellished with double-C safety-pin or vinyl-record jet embroidery,” Sarah Mower wrote. wrote.

See the collection.

Los Angeles, Resort 2024

Photo: Andrea Adriani / Gorunway.com

Photo: Andrea Adriani / Gorunway.com

The location: The Paramount Studios lot in Los Angeles

The theme: “The storytelling Chanel did around this resort collection was devoted to its Hollywood connections. Coco Chanel’s first trip to California was almost 100 years ago, circa 1931,” reported Nicole Phelps. “ ‘I thought let’s do Jane Fonda, Cindy Crawford—all our heroines,’ ” Virginie Viard said at the ‘accessoirsation’ of the collection a day before the show. ‘There are jeans, a more aerobic feeling; every show is the occasion to do something we’ve never done before.’ ”

See the collection.

Dakar, Senegal: Pre-Fall 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

The location: The former Palais de Justice in Dakar. Luke Leitch reported that this was Chanel’s first show in Africa—“and simultaneously the first show to be presented by any European or US house anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The theme: This event, Leitch noted, “felt like a well-considered exploration of cultural affinities—an interweaving of the pre-existing to create something entirely new. Much of that atmosphere was generated by all of the many Senegal-facing activities, but it was also inherent—albeit more discreetly—in the fabric of the collection itself. The lion motif that reappeared on jewelry and bags was a dual reference to the emblem of Senegal and the sign of Coco Chanel. Viard also looked beyond Senegal. The tailoring and menswear shapes were informed by Congo’s sartorialist Sapeur subculture, as were the heftily commando-soled shoes.”

See the collection.

Monte-Carlo, Monaco: Resort 2023

Photo: Carlo Scarpato / Gorunway.com

The location: The beach at the Hotel Monte-Carlo

The theme: Monte Carlo: “the casino, Helmut Newton’s girls, the car races…we like to play with all the cliches!” Viard said.

See the collection.

Paris: Pre-Fall 2022

Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com

Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com

The location: Le19M, the Rudy Ricciotti-designed building devoted to the workshops of the maison’s artisans: Lesage, Montex, Lemarié, Lognon, Goosens, Maison Michel, and Massaro.

The theme: “Interpreting the Chanel branding through graffiti-like embroidery, Virginie Viard exercised her take on the logomania that’s increasingly filled the Instagram pages of 2021,” wrote Anders Christian Madsen. “In a world where streetwear has taken on its own literal meaning—clothes for any street, everywhere—Viard was living up to the duties Chanel has set itself with Le19M: securing the survival of rare craftsmanship by connecting it to the future.”

See the collection.

Provence, France: Resort 2022

The location: The Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Light) in Les Baux

The theme: “In 1960 Jean Cocteau—the sui generis artist, poet, and filmmaker who cast a long shadow across the worlds of culture and style in 20th century France—used these quarries as a setting for his hauntingly beautiful movie The Testament of Orpheus,” wrote Hamish Bowles. “It’s ‘so modern, so fresh, and so strong,’ says Viard, who watched the movie, which features Cocteau himself, with cameos from his lover Jean Marais, Pablo Picasso, and Yul Brynner, among others, as she began working on the season. ‘The movie really inspired the collection,’ Viard added. ‘When I came to see the quarry again—I’d been years ago, before it was used for the son et lumiere—I saw that the clothes had to be strong, and black and white. Otherwise we could be in Petra or Egypt.’ ”

See the collection.

Touraine, France: Pre-Fall 2021

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

The location: “The 16th-century Chenonceau is known as the Chateau des Femmes (the Women’s Castle) because of its association with some powerful ladies through its storied history, notably Diane de Poitiers, the influential mistress of King Henry II, and her rival, Catherine de Medici, the king’s Italian-born, taste-making wife,” Hamish Bowles reported.

The theme: “Viard was thinking of something ‘a little princess-y!’ with this collection.” These included what the reviewer called “Catherine de Medici–via–Coco Chanel ruffled collars” and other detail inspired by the 16th century as well as the location. “ You can find so many details,’ notes Viard. She was astounded to discover, for instance, that Catherine de Medici’s symbol, repeated throughout the chateau, is a linked double C—very similar to the iconic Chanel logo that is so much a part of the brand’s DNA.”

See the collection.

Paris: Resort 2021

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

Photo: Courtesy of Chanel

The location: The show would have been shown in Capri if not for the pandemic. To evoke the “Balade en Méditerranée [A Mediterranean Jaunt]” she was after, Viard tapped photographer Karim Sadli and model Mica Argañaraz to “create the illusion of a Caprese sunset in Chanel’s Paris photo studio.”

The theme: Viard, wrote Hamish Bowles, “was thinking and dreaming, as she told me, about ‘summer in Capri—or the South of France,’ and the kind of destination wardrobe of ‘easy clothes’ that ‘a sophisticated but also cool girl would want to travel with.’ ”

See the collection.

Paris: Pre-Fall 2020

Photo: Daniele Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

Photo: Daniele Oberrauch / Gorunway.com

The location: Coco Chanel’s apartment and the house’s mirrored staircase were recreated in the Grand Palais for a show titled Paris-31 rue Cambon.

The theme: Virginie Viard described the collection as “the things we like, a mix of Karl and Chanel—the codes.” The designer wove elements from that apartment into details of the clothes themselves,” Hamish Bolwes reported. “The ears of wheat from the gilded sheaves that Chanel kept for good luck were embroidered onto filmy black tulle cardigans shrugged over lean black crepe jogging pants, and on a short evening dress lavished with ropes of pearls. Elsewhere, motifs from the ancient lacquered Coromandel screens (that Lagerfeld famously reproduced for a series of Lesage-embroidered coats in his Fall 1996 couture collection) were used as luxe frostings on pocket flaps and cuffs.”

See the collection.

Paris: Resort 2020

Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com

Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com

The location: The Grand Palais was made to look like “a train platform, the audience seated on old-fashioned benches. [The brand also] replicated a dining carriage in a pre-war train, and a Belle Epoque café (‘Le Riviera’).”

The theme: “Just as [Virginie Viard’s] respectful opening look had suggested the way the liberated young Chanel herself might have dressed in 2020—easy black jacket with wide-leg pants cut short enough not to impede a woman on a mission, and a soft but unfussy white blouse—so the final look paid homage to Karl Lagerfeld himself in a halter dress suspended from a stiff Edwardian collar in his trademark black and white,” wrote Hamish Bowles.

See the collection.

New York: Pre-Fall 2019

Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com

Photo: Alessandro Lucioni / Gorunway.com

The location: The 10 B.C. Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The theme: “Karl Lagerfeld was thinking of a chic mash-up of Ancient Egypt and New York itself,” Hamish Bowles wrote. “Those famous Chanel tweeds were flecked with lustrous gold—Lagerfeld who can never resist a play on words, called it luxe or to sound like the storied city on the Nile. And in another antic play on words, he indulged in some prints and motifs drawn from the Memphis Group, the 1980s artist and designer collective headed by the protean Ettore Sottsass and named for the ancient Egyptian city, whose work Lagerfeld himself commissioned and collected back in the day.”

See the collection.

Paris: Resort 2019

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

The location: In the Grand Palais Chanel created a near life-size model of a passenger ship named La Pausa, after Chanel’s summer house in the South of France.

The theme: “The clothes read both as a sentimental journey around the ’80s, when Lagerfeld began designing for the house, and of the signatures—quilting, tweed, sailor pants, pearls, Scottish cashmeres, camellias—that Gabrielle Chanel brought to fashion in the first place,” Sarah Mower reported. “A press release steered attention toward the fact that Coco Chanel was essentially the first designer to make vacation clothes for wealthy clients, first in the resort of Deauville in 1919, and how she later built on that success to introduce the first croisiere collections at her house in the Rue Cambon in Paris in the late 1920s. Essentially, it was the first lifestyle collection, suited to the leisured classes’ penchant for sailing around the Mediterranean in the summer months.”

See the collection.

Hamburg, Germany: Pre-Fall 2018

The location: The clothes were presented to live orchestral music in the auditorium of the Herzog & de Meuron Elbephilharmonie building

The theme: Nautical. The collection, wrote Sarah Mower, was “anchored in the seafaring character of the town on the River Elbe…. The clothes evoked ’60s beatniks, countercultural girls in sweaterdresses, smartly dressed officers in uniform, and naval ratings in sailor pants—looks that ran up and down the register of the cool, the hip, and the immaculately classic…. And then there was the stroke of genius that was the Maison Michel–made nautical tweed cap.… Beatle caps, definitely. In fact, they only got that name as a craze in the ’60s once John Lennon started wearing them after the Beatles had played gigs for months in clubs in the Reeperbahn red-light district in Hamburg. They’d picked up the idea of the caps from the sailors. ‘I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg,’ Lennon once said.”

See the collection.

Paris: Resort 2018

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

The location: Galerie Courbe in the Grand Palais; the set referenced the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

The theme: Lagerfeld conjured the ancient world through touches, reported Luke Leitch, such as “Hellenic silhouettes and tropes [as] strappy (column heeled) sandals, jeweled golden armbands, ancient coins as buttons or heaped in necklaces, pottery relief knits, faux-rustic chitons, and metal laurel leaf paillettes clustered in neckpieces or painted on sweatshirts and a sweat-tee.”

See the collection.

Paris: Pre-Fall 2017

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

Photo: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv

The location: The show, presented in the then-newly refurbished Ritz Hotel in Paris was shown “in three sittings at lunch, tea, and dinnertime.”

The theme: “Coco Chanel famously lived at the Ritz from 1937 throughout World War II, and died here in 1971. The house of Chanel is steps away from the hotel’s back door, on the Rue Cambon,” Sarah Mower reported. “Lagerfeld’s angle, though, wasn’t the life of Chanel herself, but, he emphasized, ‘cosmopolitan elegance [and] people from all over the world who’ve come to the Ritz. There were hundreds of dinners in the ’20s and ’30s, where women wore incredible things. But you cannot tell from the collection what decade it is, and I think that is modern, no?’ ”

Havana, Cuba: Resort 2017

Photo: Jonas Gustavsson / Indigital.tv

The Location: Old Havana, where guests took in the show from open-top Buicks, Cadillacs, and Oldsmobiles.

The theme: “Trust Karl to find the symbol of French-Cuban entente cordiale in a piece of clothing,” wrote Sarah Mower. “That would be the beret in this case—ultra-French in origin, but also inescapably Che Guevara. There were sparkly black versions scattered throughout, as well as panamas with Chanel camellias tucked into the hatbands.”

See the collection.

Rome, Italy: Pre-Fall 2016

Photo: Gianni Pucci / Indigitalimages.com

The location: Rome’s Cinecittà film studio, where classics like Ben-Hur and Roman Holiday were shot

The theme: The collection, wrote Sarah Mower, referenced Karl Lagerfeld’s relationship with the city, which dates as far back as 1963 and his debut season designing for Tiziani [as well as] the little-known fact that Coco Chanel designed for the incredible, classy ’50s actresses Jeanne Moreau, Anouk Aimée, Monica Vitti, and Romy Schneider, all of whom starred in Italian movies by Visconti and Pasolini wearing her clothes…. Then the whole thing was built up, as only Chanel can manage, into a mega-faceted Sensurround event about movies and moviemaking and sets and Paris and Rome, all of it constructed for one night in Cinecittà, Italy’s “Hollywood on the Tiber.”

See the collection.

Seoul, Korea: Resort 2016

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza

The theme: “The models were made up like manga kewpies, their hair concealed under big ‘hats’ of braided black hair, a reference to Korean tonsorial tradition. The major visual motif was a busy and brightly colored patchwork, a technique, which, Lagerfeld said, is only found in Korea. The mother-of-pearl embroidery that traced a black wrap dress was inspired by the decoration on Korean wedding chests. The high empire line and flaring sleeves on full-silhouetted dresses were Lagerfeld’s sublimation of traditional garb.”

See the collection.

Salzburg, Austria: Pre-Fall 2015

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg

The theme: “Lagerfeld spun his own Mitteleuropa fantasy as his models with their gilded eyelids moved through rococo salons lit by candles. The capelets, frogged jackets, and side-striped trousers echoed a Viennese military academy. It was one of those jackets, transmuted into the uniform of a hotel page in Salzburg’s Mittersill Hotel, that inspired Chanel’s signature little black jacket (though it was more often white, Lagerfeld pointed out),” Tim Blanks reported. “There was another interesting historical confluence involving Chanel herself that underscored the rightness of this whole event for Lagerfeld. Romy Schneider, the quintessence of Austrian elegance, made her name playing Sissi in a 1950s trilogy. In 1961, director Luchino Visconti asked Chanel to dress Schneider for Boccaccio ’70. She would return to the role of Sissi in 1972 for Visconti’s Ludwig.”

See the collection.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Resort 2015

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: A hangar covered in double C’s on a man-made island accessed by boat

The theme “This is my idea of a romantic, modern Orient, a new One Thousand and One Nights,’ [said Lagerfeld]. And there was no place more appropriate to offer it up than Dubai, where West and East, today and tomorrow, real and fake meet in a duty-free, shopaholic embrace,” noted Tim Blanks.

See the collection.

Dallas, Texas: Pre-Fall 2014

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: Dallas’s Fair Park, home of the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and a National Historic Landmark where a Chanel had installed “a built-to-fit drive-in movie theater complete with seventy-four restored vintage automobiles parked in front of four giant screens.”

The theme: The show was titled “Back in Dallas” because Neiman Marcus presented its Award for Distinguished Service in the field of to Coco Chanel and 1954. Karl Lagerfeld received the same following the pre-collection. Of the Western-themed collection, the designer said, “It’s a reinvention of something I don’t really know, but that I like to play with,” he said. Besides the “miles and miles of fringe,” Nicole Phelps noted that “Erin Wasson, a native Texan, carried bottles of Chanel No. 5 in her holsters.”

See the collection.

Singapore: Resort 2014

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: A former British army barracks in Singapore hung with traditional black-and-white curtains.

The theme: “That half step toward laddishness—the pearl-trimmed sort championed by the young Coco Chanel, with her menswear fabrics and her suiting, her boys’ tailoring inspired by Boy’s tailoring—gave the collection its sprightly freshness,” Matthew Schneier reported. “Lagerfeld insisted his Singapore was a dream Singapore.”

See the collection.

Edinburgh, Scotland: Pre-Fall 2013

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots

The theme: “The tweeds, the knits, the cardigans, the man-styled essence of Chanel all came from Scotland and the time that Coco spent there with her lover the Duke of Westminster,” wrote Tim Blanks. The castle’s connection to the doomed queen, he noted, “gave Lagerfeld the perfect opportunity to gloss Chanel’s easy pragmatism with an element of doomed romance….. ‘Barbarian romance,’ Lagerfeld called it.”

See the collection.

Versailles, France: Resort 2013

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: By the fountains in gardens at the Palace of Versailles

The theme: “Versailles in a Socialist France”—said Karl Lagerfeld. Tim Blanks described the collection as “a gleeful mash-up of hip-hop edge—à la his favorite Azealia Banks or M.I.A.—and Louis Quatorze’s eighteenth-century court at Versailles.”

See the collection.

“Paris-Bombay:” Pre-Fall 2012

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: The Grand Palais, with Raj-style decorations including fruit and flower laden tables on which a toy train carried decanters of spirits.

The theme: This collection, reported Tim Blanks, “was a reminder that Europe’s fashion industry has increasingly turned to India to produce extravagantly handworked pieces as it has become prohibitively expensive to make them at home. Karl Lagerfeld’s fiendish plan was to flip the equation, so that everything that looked intricately Indian was actually made by Chanel’s ateliers in Paris.”

See the collection.

Antibes, France: Resort 2012

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc

The theme: “Too much may not be enough,” said Karl Lagerfeld of a collection accessorized with fine jewelry and nominally inspired, wrote Tim Blanks, by “Rita Hayworth and Aly Khan, former hot-blooded habitués of the Hotel du Cap.”

See the collection.

“Paris-Byzance:” Pre-Fall 2011

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: The second-floor couture salon on Rue Cambon, which was transformed into “a sort of Ottomanesque chill-out room, with low stained glass tables and two rows of patterned square pillows” on which the guests were seated.

The theme: “The season’s theme, Paris-Byzance, Karl Lagerfeld explained, was inspired by the Empress Theodora and the lost culture of Byzantium. In typically rapid-fire mode, he noted: ‘Theodora was a circus artist who became empress, like Chanel, who was a little singer and became a fashion empress.’ Ba-domp-bomp! Mostly, however, the reference came via Coco’s Byzantine-inspired Gripoix jewelry, which is instantly recognizable even today,” noted Meenal Mistry.

See the collection.

St. Tropez, France: Resort 2011

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: The plaza in front of St. Tropez’s famed Sénéquier where guests, seated in the café’s signature red wooden chairs, watched models arrive at Quai Jean Jaurès on speedboats.

The theme: “Though Karl Lagerfeld pointed out that ‘Chanel was spotted here once in ’34 by Colette,’ Saint-Tropez feels much more like Karl’s kind of town,” noted Sarah Mower. “ ‘I spent many years of my life here,’ he said. ‘I know Saint-Tropez like I know Paris. The collection is very casual, very down-to-earth.’ ”

See the collection.

Shanghai: Pre-Fall 2010

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: A pontoon moored in the Huangpu River at night

The theme: “The elaborate justification for this latest flex of Chanel’s corporate muscle was a Karl Lagerfeld-directed movie, Paris-Shanghai: A Fantasy,” wrote Sarah Mower. She described the collection as “a multidimensional fantasia that dipped deeply into Shanghai’s louche past as the Paris of the East. Clothes-wise it involved glancing references to Chinese sartorial history….”

See the collection.

Venice, Italy: Resort 2010

Courtesy of Chanel

The location: A boardwalk along Venice’s Lido at dusk along which guests were seated on sun beds in tented cabanas.

The theme: “ ‘I wanted to reinvent the mystique,’ said Karl Lagerfeld, talking about locating the collection in one of Coco Chanel’s favorite summer haunts—she visited Venice for almost ten years beginning in 1919 and met Diaghilev here,” Sarah Mower reported.

“Paris-Moscou:” Pre-Fall 2009

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The loaction: Théâtre le Ranelagh, Paris where Chanel showed “a silent black-and-white cine-skit on Coco’s flirtation with Russian-Parisian émigré society in the 1910’s and 1920’s.”

The theme: Sarah Mower reported: “This was Karl Lagerfeld setting off on another of his light but learned excursions into Coco Chanel’s exotic history with men: in this case, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, and the Russian inspirations—the Ballets Russes, Constructivism, Byzantine jewelry, and Slavic folklore—triggered by their relationship.”

See the collection.

Miami: Resort 2009

Photo: FirstView

The location: The Raleigh Hotel in South Beach, where models walked on a curvilinear runway built over the famously sinuous pool. The finale was a performance by the United States synchronized-swimming team.

The theme: The collection mixed rock ’n’ roll with seventies swing and high glamour. Models sported Brian Jones-inspired hair and pistol-heeled shoes.

See the collection.

London: Pre-Fall 2008

Photo: Indigitalimages.com

The location: Phillips de Pury auction hosue in the Victoria section of London

The theme: The show, wrote Sarah Mower, “loosely played as a time-traversing game of English/French translations centered on the backstory of Coco Chanel’s relationships with Arthur “Boy” Capel and the Duke of Westminster. Those dalliances cemented her abiding love of tweed, sailor stripes, cashmere knits, and—thanks to the indulgent Duke—gigantic love jewels, worn in rule-breaking multiples. Brought up-to-date, the look involves towering beehives and Amy Winehouse-meets-Daphne Guinness eyeliner….”

See the collection.

Los Angeles: Resort 2008

Photo: FirstView

The location: An airplane hangar in Santa Monica, decorated, reported Nicole Phelps, “like an exclusive airport lounge complete with three cocktail bars, personalized flight bags on each and every seat, and arrival and departure screens listing ‘Chanel Line’ flights.” Models made their entrance from a Chanel-branded airplane.

The theme: “Airports and flying have become a nightmare,” said Karl Lagerfeld. “L.A. is about the dream of private jets and beautiful cars and glamour. Cruise collections are about the dream of freedom.”

See the collection.

New York City: Resort 2007

Photo: FirstView

The location: Grand Central Terminal’s now-closed Metrazur restaurant on the balcony level

The theme: “Karl Lagerfeld has made a habit of turning his Chanel resort shows into spectacles,” wrote Nicole Phelps. “Last year, he loaded editors and retailers onto Paris buses, then paraded the models in and out at scheduled stops. [For resort 2007], he continued the transportation theme, taking over Grand Central Terminal’s Metrazur restaurant, and in the process, he gave Metro North riders the daily commute of their lives.”

See the collection.

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