You Can't Sit With Coco

By KAELIN BALAGH | October 13, 2019

Illustration by Pruthvi Vellanki / The Amsterdammer

To praise or shame? That seems to be the question among the comments section of an Instagram post of the infamous Chanel fashion show crasher, published by The New York Times.

On September 30th, French YouTube comedian Marie Benoliel (a.k.a. Marie S’Infiltre) marched herself onto the Chanel SS20 catwalk, in a two-piece tweed suit during the finale of the show. What followed were a confrontation with model Gigi Hadid and international acclaim for the comedian.

Unlike typical fashion show protests aimed at making bold political or environmental statements (see: Gucci SS20), Ms. Benoliel’s statement was not explicitly comprehensible to audience members during the theatrical escapade. Rather, the comedian revealed her intentions in a post-show interview: “We’re talking about clothing. It has to be joyful, it has to be funny, it has to make people happy. And I think nowadays fashion doesn’t make people happy. It makes people ridiculous and pretentious.”

Ms. Benoliel is right. Chanel is pretentious, and it’s supposed to be.

That’s the thing with established fashion houses. In terms of the women they represent, they seem to be immune to the influence of societal change within the fashion industry. While designers like Collina Strada and Phoebe Philo (formerly Celine) aren’t shy to boast diversity and attempt to represent the relatable working woman, that’s just not Chanel, Fendi or Prada’s intention.

Fashion houses became fashion houses by eliciting feelings of aspiration in their audience members, and exclusivity in their customers. In a world where we’re told to embrace our flaws and love ourselves, being told to be the most pompous version of ourselves strikes a chord. The presence of joy is not absent within the fashion industry; it’s appearance is dependent on a person’s subjective perception. 

What makes people happy is personal, and although it’s on trend to be #woke, what sparks joy is not limited to humor, inclusion and relatability.

So, Ms. Benoliel, I don’t think Chanel needs to find its sense of humor. If anything, its sense of humor can be found in the fact that it continues to find commercial success while presenting a deep rooted distaste towards relatability.

Perhaps, we’ll leave the fashion industry’s humor quota with that one model at Maison Margiela and Emma Chamberlain’s partnership with Louis Vuitton.

To clarify, I am not against demonstration with systematic purpose. Yet, in this case, Ms. Benoliel’s subjective perception of joy was not justified in overshadowing the hard work of hundreds of people. It’s okay to be pretentious and absurd, but please don’t rob the joy of others in the interest of your own.

Chanel Crash Cover Photo by Pruthvi Vellanki
Illustration by Pruthvi Vellanki / The Amsterdammer
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