Chanel couture: All in the family
Chanel presented its latest haute couture collection on Tuesday before barely a half-dozen guests, presenting a collection where one could imagine Coco Chanel wearing every look.
Creative director Virginie Viard returned to the house’s favorite show space, the 240-meter-long Grand Palais, light falling through its enormous glass barrel-vaulted roof onto Chanel’s favorite gal pals – ambassadors Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Vanessa Paradis, Lily-Rose Depp and Alma Jodorowsky; friends of maison Joana Preiss and Izïa Higelin; and the house’s latest plenipotentiary Charlotte Casiraghi.
Viard picked the noted Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn to shoot this season’s show video, revealed at precisely 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the second day of the four-day Paris haute couture season, all of which takes place online. That time being the preferred slot for all great houses, as it allows clients in China and New York to see the debut live.
In a busy career, Corbijn has shot U2 album covers; modelled on a Yohji Yamamoto catwalk and directed the likes of George Clooney and Philip Seymour Hoffman in feature films. Pre-show, Chanel released his teaser of just 16 seconds - models arriving in the house’s design studio at 31 rue Cambon; as seamstresses sew on sequins and buttons, or stitch up shoulders.
Corbijn’s show brief was to produce “family portraits” of Viard’s favorites for an album cover featuring the Dutch artist’s painting of a camellia, Coco Chanel’s favorite flower. Hence the portraits of models posing at the heart of Chanel’s newly revamped couture salons, redecorated in the spirit of Gabrielle Chanel by Parisian decorator Jacques Grange and inaugurated this month.
“I knew we couldn't have a big parade, that we would have to invent something else, so I had the idea of a small procession that would come down the stairs of the Grand Palais and pass under arches of flowers. Like a family celebration, a wedding,” explained Viard, who took her bow in chalk-stripe pants, white mannish shirt and waistcoat.
The brand ambassadors with Cotillard, in a little black dress or Vanessa Paradis in a crystal trimmed wool jacket, then all posed in the very clothes that they wear to the show, all plucked from previous Chanel collections.
The mini clip teased further with an image of a prancing white horse inside the Grand Palais; before the fashionable diplomats became the audience for the show, all perched on gold Louis XV chairs in the looming Grand Palais as the cast marched on a flower-strewn circular runway bedecked with trellises. Like Corbijn’s most famous film, Control, about the life of Joy Division front-man Ian Curtis, this was shot in black and white and gray.
Like the video, the collection was as composed and coherent; from the new wide-leg pants worn with bolero jacket made entirely of frills to the beguiling petticoat looks done in pink georgette. Bouffant tulle skirts or removable skirts in white daisy lace all evoking the languid days of summer.
A free-spirited collection in which the models strolled in double-strap tango-dancer shoes or the quilted ankle boots with wedge heels decorated with a golden grid. Rather than black the key color was anthracite – seen in wool bouclé jackets and flared dresses. For evening, guipure flounce dresses and barely-there boleros in marvelous cascades of georgette. Most every gal with a fabric flower hairpiece, grooving to the soundtrack of The Ronettes classic track, 'Be My Baby.'
The cast eventually sitting down among the stars and ambassadors, who looked like successful older sisters. Or indeed the daughters childless Coco never had. Before a superb gray horse carried out a 1920s-style Marianne, attired in a crystalline satin, split-front wedding dress, topped with a three-meter-long tulle train embroidered by Lesage with rhinestone and pearl butterflies.
“I love big family reunions, when all the generations blend together. It’s so warm. This spirit, I find it today at Chanel. Because Chanel is also a family. A spirit to be celebrated more than ever... at the foot of the mythical staircase covered with mirrors. I wanted to collect the models for the time of family photos," Virginie concluded.
All in the family at Chanel.
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