Chanel: Modern musketeer mode
A pure Parisian moment at Chanel, with all the ease, assurance and stylish impertinence which that implies, in a jaunty show and collection presented on Tuesday.
Staged on a chilly morning inside the Grand Palais, this fall-winter 2020/21 collection felt like a burst of much needed optimism, as the four-week international catwalk season ended under the shadow of the coronavirus.
A selection of French movie soundtracks set the scene – opening with Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin), Jacques Demy’s 1970 musical comedy, shot around the chateaux of the Loire. However, while it riffed on French classic imagery with a whole series of musketeer pants; and turned down pirate boots, there was nothing too literal about the collection which looked decidedly contemporary.
Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard had already set the mood with an ingenious video teaser shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Released the day before the show, it captured two models standing on the Pont des Arts, Rianne Van Rompaey and Margaret Qualley, where the first face magically morphs into the second.
Von Rompaey then opened the show in a three-piece lime green suit anchored by the boots, marching with Italian model Vittoria Ceretti in a black ensemble of jodhpur pants, unbuttoned from the knee down, baseball jacket and tiny lace top finished with multiple strands of pearls. The pair chatting animatedly, the first of multiple groups of two or three, marching like old pals; often with arms linked; talking and smiling.
Dressed in silk boleros with winged horse print; strapless black calico gowns; super strict bouclé wool double-breasted coat-dresses with 12 buttons and an assortment of jodhpurs and jockey silks. Plus, Viard sent out a selection of novel jacket shapes – from micro double-breasted versions with huge splayed collars to forgiving cabans with large patch pockets.
Pretty much every look accessorized with Byzantine jewelry, in bright mosaic colors – crosses, earring, necklaces and bracelets.
“Romantic, easy, a Parisian,” explained Viard, looking remarkably relaxed in the post-show backstage.
The cast strolling happily on a giant mirrored floor, covered with dry ice; the audience of 2,600 sat comfortably on the slopes of a white magic mountain. Half way through the mood turned dramatic, as the soundtrack came from Les Biches, Claude Chabrol’s dark tale of doomed bisexual love, which includes the icy beauty Stéphane Audran moodily tossing a note to a street artist - also on the Pont des Arts.
The mood, however, was insouciant throughout, heightened by the brilliantly styled loosely tied hair and naturalistic makeup and beaming models.
“Did you know that Coco Chanel actually had a racehorse called Romantica?” smiled Viard.
Asked about her starting point when creating the collection, she pulled out her mobile phone and showed an old black and white photo of Karl Lagerfeld and Italian fashion editor Anna Piaggi. Her predecessor dressed in pirate boots. “I began with these!” she laughed, pointing to the footwear.
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