Chanel is trying to make this early-aughts accessory cool again

Selena Gomez at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball in 2010 wearing an unwrapped red knit infinity scarf. (Photo: Getty Images)

Among insulting distinctions in fashion, to be “basic” is arguably the worst. The loaded signifier, colloquially referred to as the “basic bitch,” makes the wearer pitiable as a victim of conformity and consumerism, the thinking goes.

Which makes it jolting that a staple in the “basic” girl’s wardrobe made its way onto the Chanel Fall 2018 runway in Paris this season. On Tuesday, a handful of infinity scarves appeared in Karl Lagerfeld’s collection as an unexpected accessory.

Chanel Fall 2018 includes infinity scarves, emblematic of the mid-2000s and “basic” style. (Photo: Getty Images)
Chanel Fall 2018 (Photo: Getty Images)
Chanel Fall 2018 (Photo: Getty Images)

At a brand like Y/Project, an inventive take on a basic girl staple — the Ugg boot — feels sardonic and cheeky. But at Chanel — a house known for its iconic brand of elitist sophistication — the return of the mid-aughts accessory was jolting.

While the blankets-as-scarves (and blankets themselves) trend made appearances on other runways, the French house’s Fall 2018 ready-to-wear show in Paris included puffer jackets and embellished logs-as-clutches amid a dark, woodsy collection, punctuated at times by bolts of tangerine and fuchsia.

This writer’s initial shock at the infinity scarf is a personal reaction toward the “basic” aesthetic: Those aforementioned Ugg boots, a pair of Lululemon leggings, and an infinity scarf make for la femme basique’s go-to outfit. But it’s not just my own dislike of the basic uniform that exists. New York magazine’s the Cut wrote in 2014 about the regrettable basic persona, and in 2016, GQ reminded everyone the best way to wear an infinity scarf is to not wear one.

The infinity scarf (also referred to as a “snood” or a “mobius” scarf) became popular in the mid-aughts, when they were as ubiquitous as the High School Musical stars who donned them. A few infinity scarves even made their way into Chanel’s Fall 2010 show.

Chanel’s Fall 2010 take on the infinity scarf. (Photo: Getty Images)

While a silk scarf à la Hermès might have a rich history within couture houses or be an accessory-as-power symbol in the 2010s, the infinity scarf conjures a different image.

Yet somehow, Karl Lagerfeld’s take on the mid-aughts accessory maintains a luxurious aesthetic as prescribed by Chanel. It could have been the couture-level tailoring, metallic separates, or rich drop-waist knit dresses that would draw anyone into Chanel’s woods.

So long as the Chanel infinity scarves keep far away from bonfires or pumpkin spice lattes next season, they’ll stay chic. Then again, no one ever accused a Chanel girl of being basic.

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