Fashion’s constant oxygen is the ephemeral—something new, then something newer, and so on ad infinitum. Today’s Chanel Resort 2018 show broke that cycle to take a deep inhalation of pure antiquity. Fashions must fade, obsolescence is a given, but this was a tilt at the eternal: Chanel does Ancient Greece.

The lucky audience was taken to an Elysian ideal of a Greek ruin. We sat beneath 11 crumbling columns that sheltered rosemary and sage growing between the cracked flagstones and a gnarled old olive tree set into a rocky outcrop. This was a site under turn-of-the-20th-century archaeological excavation, flanked by wooden scaffolding. A marble Venus beneath it had been partially stuffed into a burlap sack, as if half dispatched for transport to some British museum. The Aegean sparkled beneath us on a darkening horizon dappled with distant isles. So—again, lucky us—we were in Greece, right?

Chanel’s bouclé-bound, No. 5–fragrant faithful have happily followed its Resort caravansary from Dubai to Seoul to Havana and beyond in recent years. We might easily have been seated within the Parthenon in Athens or the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion had Chanel been inclined to take us there. Yet this season Karl Lagerfeld brought the show back to Paris.

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