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Acquiring front row seats at a Chanel fashion show is usually reserved for fashion’s elite, but in these virtual times, as a result of the pandemic, we can all obtain the luxury of an intimate show. Virginie Viard’s new Chanel Fall/Winter 2021/22 Ready-To-Wear collection was unveiled on Tuesday 9th March at 10.30am Parisian time. Differing from past shows, with them usually being held at the expansive Grand Palais which is currently closed for renovations, Viard opted for more intimacy.
Left Bank nightclub Castel was the perfect place to offer coziness, with it boasting multiple small rooms that the models used as part of the runway, giving the feeling of a tiny English house. Moreover, the club has been the epitome of cool since the 1960s, enticing the likes of Mick Jagger and Amanda Lear. The features of the club are risqué but have elegant and arty details, making the show bold and incredibly Parisian. Virginie Viard on her choice of Castel, ‘I like Castel so much for its many salons, the spiral staircase, its bar, the journey through this venue, its little house style, where the models can get changed, dressed and undressed, do their make-up together, and have fun like a girls night in. It’s very sensual.’ The choice of housing the show in a nightclub also highlights her ability to tap into what younger people want, with the lack of nightlife currently adding another dimension of longing to the show.
Artistic director Viard went off-piste with her lively Coco Neige collection, mixing aprè skiwear with Parisian chic; ‘this collection is a mix of two influences,’ Viard said in a press statement. The collection is cool and effortless, being well executed with clean cuts. The clothes and style of the show allowed Viard the chance to travel through the world of Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel’s heyday, with her recreating shows Karl told her about that he staged in the ‘70s, with girls getting dressed on their own in restaurants in Paris.
Fall/Winter 2021/22 offered ski suits embroidered with the house’s signature interlocking double Cs, voluminous puffer coats, metallic party dresses coupled with shaggy moon boots. Layers of jewellery and flashy belly chains add to the collection, although often I did feel the accessories were misplaced and could have been used more sparingly taking away from what the outfits had to offer. Other pieces in the show conveyed more traditional Chanel looks, from the contrasting knits to tweed suits and coats, being the signature fabric of the French fashion house; these were bound to triumph. Viard does offer an update on the classic tweed coat, making it oversized, whilst adding panels of sequin fabric to the longline tweed cardigans. The fusion of strong tweed and fragile chiffon everywhere in the collection seemed to be inspired by the renowned style of long -time Chanel muse Stella Tennant, a Chanel icon who died in December 2020.
The presentation of the show was in black and white, however, the collection was filled with different textures of quilt and tweed, whilst featuring pops of fuchsia, mustard, sapphire and lilac. Ultimately this made the collection feel like when a minimalist and maximalist get together, and the union produced was wondrous.
The show was shot and directed by duo photographers Inez and Vinoodh, who played spectacularly with the glamour of Castel, whilst pulling through the models’ individuality to the clothes. Inez Van Lamsweerde said that ‘the girls dressed up for themselves, had a show for themselves and felt strong and beautiful together’, bringing a feeling of empowerment to the catwalk. The show featured 20 models as opposed to the usual 80, making the atmosphere of the runway match Inez’s statement, of models doing the show for themselves.
Beautifully matched was the music to the catwalk, with the soundtrack starting with ‘Do You Know Where You’re Going To’ by Diana Ross, which Viard regards as remarkably apt for the moment, with no-one being able to go anywhere. Diana Ross and Chanel are forever classics in the world of creativity, making this match flawless. Mixed by Michel Gaubert, he perfects the sound so the models including Lola Nicon, Vivienne Rohner, Louise de Chevigny, Mica Arganaraz and Rebecca Leigh Longendyke walk the walls of Castel to.
Ending the show, Viard’s final look is a gold trench coat, styled with a felt fedora, a piece which could have fallen out of Chanel’s previous ‘90s collections sticking true to the French fashion house’s signature looks. All of the models gather in the street, bringing the nightclub to the streets of St Germain des Près, and are joined by Virginie Viard to celebrate the Fall/Winter 2021/22 collection.
The quiet power that alludes from Chanel’s fall-winter collection, even on a screen, makes us excited for next season. Watching with no audience does make us long for the grandiose of the runway, with the Chanel fanfare being the highlight of every season. From indoor beaches to merry-go-rounds, the opulence that the French fashion house brings every year is notably missing from the background of this collection. However, the girls night out vibe that Viard injected made me excited for the 21st of June and filled me with as much love for the clothes as usual, although with a compact runway their appearance on screen was fleeting. Hopefully, as the world gets vaccinated and measures are lifted, we will start to see catwalks true to usual form and fashion forcefully returning.