Inside Chanel’s Annual Métiers d’Art Collection
Virginie Viard expressed the collection's customary opulence through an unexpected way of simplicity that still left us in awe, no less.| December 10, 2019
Virginie Viard took on the weight of the world on her shoulders when she succeeded the late Karl Lagerfeld at the house of Chanel earlier this year. Three collections in – Resort 2020, Fall Couture 2019 and Spring 2020 – Viard has just about proved herself as the woman for the job. Except, she had one box left to tick – the maison’s revered Métiers d’Art collection.
To the unacquainted, the annual Métiers d’Art collection is a testament of Chanel’s impeccable craftsmanship. An exquisite display of the maison’s extensive network of ateliers and artisans spanning from Lésage to Lemarié, the showcase also serves as a yearly reminder why there is simply none other like the house of Chanel. For her debut Métiers d’Art outing, Viard departed from Lagerfeld’s tendencies to bring the fashion set on a tour around the globe and instead, stayed close to home at the brand’s regular show venue – the Grand Palais at Paris.
Inside the Grand Palais, guests were brought back to Gabrielle Chanel’s Paris apartment in a series of lavish salon rooms outfitted in coromandel lacquered screens and gilded chairs. Viard’s ode to the house’s past did not end there. Not only was the runway show space built to replicate Chanel’s historic 31 rue Cambon store to a t complete with the famous curved mirror-lined staircase, the collection, too, was named after its iconic address. With a nearly thousand show-goers settled into their seats, the lights dimmed and chandeliers descended to signal the beginning of a new chapter in Chanel’s history as written by Viard.
The show opened with a monochromatic line-up of classic black coats in wool accentuated by gold sequinned sash belts that wrapped loosely around the waist. The all-black timeless renditions graduated to edgier propositions as the show progressed. For instance, Viard spliced a coat into half – black on one end and white on the other – and sent it down with little else than a pencil skirt. Unlike her predecessor’s inclination towards opulence, Viard’s ideals for the house of Chanel is rooted in simplicity.
While Viard’s approach may deviate from that of Lagerfeld’s, having worked alongside the man himself for more than 30 years, she is, indisputably, a maestro of the house’s codes. Looking back at the past to move forward, Viard borrowed from instantly recognisable emblems of Chanel to lend visual appeal to the clothes. A case in point: the signature camellia was rendered as a motif on a fuzzy knit skirt just as it took on three dimensional form on a bomber jacket. Elsewhere, gold wheat that Chanel kept for good luck was embroidered onto a tulle jacket, jogging pants and a short evening dress. Just as Viard had meant for them to be, every piece from the collection was telling of Chanel’s history. In the mix, you would also notice the birdcage bag, a throwback to the infamous 1992 Chanel fragrance commercial featuring French actress Vanessa Paradis.
On the topic of throwbacks, Viard had her way with moving the house’s history along with the times. Her bait for the younger generation was observed in the tapered proportions. The collection had plenty of midriff on show with belts doubling up as belly chains – the trend already observable on Bella Hadid’s Instagram feed. Tweed jackets, too, hopped onto the tie dye bandwagon. On the accessories end, you can’t forget the bags, Viard made further cases for the mini-bag mania.
Playing her cards right, it is accurate to say that Viard has proved her ways of turning the heads of the millennial set all while holding onto the attention of Chanel’s older clientele.
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