IF THERE was ever a museum worth raiding it would be the Palais Galliera. Packed from wall-to-wall with snippets of fashion and its history, this sanctuary of clothes became the idyllic backdrop to the Chanel autumn-winter 2021 couture show. The grey skies and luke warm weather complimented the Italian Renaissance-like building as the scene was set for the French brand’s first show with an audience post-pandemic.
The restricted yet excited attendees waited as one-by-one each model calmly paraded down the steps across the courtyard to see what creative director Virginie Viard envisioned for the winter months ahead.
With history quite literally at the forefront of this collection, it should come as no surprise that the collection was very Chanel. And when I say that I mean it is was very Coco. Of course, it was contemporary but in a beautiful and delicate manner – a type of pretty that is rare to come by nowadays because it lacks the modern sex appeal, and instead paints a picturesque, classic version of femininity.
“It was when I rediscovered these portraits of Gabrielle Chanel dressed up in black or white 1880s-style dresses, that I immediately thought about tableaux” recalls Viard. Referencing the works of Berthe Morisot, Marie Laurencin and Édouard Manet, impressionism became the backbone of this collection.
It should also be noted that the location of the show combined with the theme of the collection becomes even more fitting when you hear that there is an exhibition dedicated to the founder just steps away.
Bursting with colour and odes to various paintings, the dialogue between art and fashion was once again reignited on the runway.
The designer emphasises her enthusiasm of injecting colour into a season where the nights are typically longer and the days are darker, “Because I love seeing colour in the greyness of winter, I really wanted a particularly colourful collection that was very embroidered, something warm.”
The couture collection was comprised of flowy blouses finished with mauve and pink sequinned motifs that contrasted darker versions with red, blue and yellow daises blooming on them; while the classic Chanel tweed manifested itself in low-waisted skirts and double-breasted jackets. Dresses were painted with water lilies while coats were crafted from feathers in red and pink hinting at the English gardens that Gabrielle used to walk through.
The enchanting show ended with the Chanel bride, played this season by actress and ambassador of the brand, Margaret Qualley. With the world having been put on hold over the past year and the pause button continually pressed for weddings, the sight of a bride gave this collection an odd sense of normality.
And as the show came to a close, Qualley threw her bouquet behind her back and into the audience giving us the message it is time to say goodbye to the past and walk into a more colourful future.
by Imogen Clark