AN ANIMAL instinct has appeared to take over couture week, with Chanel’s latest collection designed by Virginie Viardbeing no exception. Amongst a wonderland of wooden animals, embroidered suits, floral patterns and sartorial elements create a town meets country narrative, taking inspiration from the apartment of Coco Chanel herself.
Reflecting upon the place she took French artist Xavier Veilhan preceding their fist collaboration, Viard used Gabrielle Chanel’s Rue Cambon apartment as a key point of reference, more specifically the eclectic animal sculptures and objects that lay scattered around the rooms: “For his third participation, I asked him to reinterpret the apartment’s bestiary and incorporate his own…The whole embroidery universe of the collection is turned towards the animal world,” mentions Viard.
These animalistic trinkets can be found hidden amongst the tweed in the Haute Couture collection, with kittens, corgis, rabbits and swallows all carefully embroidered on suits and coat dresses.
An atmosphere of woodland is evoked not just through the explicit motifs of animals or stunning floral brocades but also through the set design. Models weave in and out of towering wooden sculptures designed by Veilhan, creating an almost dancerly element, which as Veilhan discusses is a nod to village festivities and parades.
This is continued through the dismantled use of suiting, with top hats, bow ties and white gloves accessorising most of the looks. These elements, especially when paired with cape coats, pleated skirts, tuxedo shirts and double-breasted, tailed jackets, hark back to the uniforms worn by ring leaders or conductors at such events in village squares.
Besides a few multi-coloured floral looks, the colour palette is generally quite monochrome, creating a simplistic chicness with hidden details interspersed throughout, all elevated with the careful pairing of accessories which help to enhance the designer’s inspirations even further. Though the inspiration for the collection may have humble beginnings, the final outcome is one elevated by the Chanel ateliers, creating a collection worthy of royal palaces rather than dainty cottages.
by Ben Sanderson