Chanel brings 31 Rue Cambon to the Grand Palais
After Hamburg and New York, Chanel's Métiers d'Art show returned to its Parisian roots on Wednesday, 4 December, recreating Gabrielle Chanel's iconic apartment for one night only at one of the luxury house's other favourite venues: the Grand Palais. A ready-to-wear offering presented off calendar and focused on the savoir-faire and craftsmanship of the ateliers that the brand works with, this latest Métiers d'Art collection was also the first to be designed by Virginie Viard.
An immense Art Déco staircase surrounded by mirrors had been set up in the Grand Palais' main space, which was also decorated with four huge crystal chandeliers and separated into intimate salons with beige divans, personal objects and a variety of books.
It was a recreation of Mademoiselle Chanel's personal refuge, an apartment frozen in time, located on the second floor of 31 Rue Cambon, between the mythical haute couture salons on the first floor and the design studios on the third. It was here that, in 2002, the first Métiers d'Art show took place, and now the legendary space had been reinterpreted on a much larger scale to signal a return to the fashion house's historical codes, albeit with a contemporary twist.
In sharp contrast to the beige carpet of the glamorous staircase that the models descended, the first looks were all in sleek black, such as black cashmere coats cinched by sparkling golden belts. As the show continued to the rhythm of Roxy Music's "To Turn You On," the model's left behind this ladylike sobriety, giving way to the house's iconic bicoloured pieces, as well as warm, pastel shades, mauves and even metallic pieces.
All of these colours were used in short tailored jackets paired with low-waisted pencil skirts and belts of pearls and chains. Classic tweed was also used in both skirt and pantsuits that were reinterpreted with a sexy, feminine style best represented by some revealing boleros, such as the one worn by a jubilant Gigi Hadid.
The 2019/20 Métiers d'Art collection was faithful to the history of Chanel, but made some interesting modern decisions, demonstrating that even the most luxurious craftsmanship is still relevant today. Flowing silhouettes were seen in never-ending black dresses decorated with embroidery and lace, pieces that were alo reinterpreted in a delicate champagne tone.
Pleated skirts, vaporous dresses and feathered details were followed by a series of looks in shining pearl and satin tones, with one particularly eye-catching piece being a bucket bag in the shape of a little golden cage, a clear reference to those that can be found in Mademoiselle's apartment.
And this wasn't the only standout accessory on the runway: Maison Massaro took care of the footwear, while the "Boy" and "Gabrielle" bags – the former sported by Kaia Gerber – were transformed into miniatures that were worn like pieces of jewellery. Embroidery came under the responsibility of Maison Lesage, while Lemarié's white camelias covered the bomber that closed the show, now accompanied by the punk-dance stylings of LCD Soundsystem.
"There is a sort of simplicty in going back to Chanel's ABC. We don't need to do too much. I didn't want the usual long-distance travelling of the Métiers d'Art collections, I wanted to stay in Paris. So, we had to think of a new way of doing things. And then there are the codes invented by Gabrielle Chanel and made sublime by Karl Lagerfeld, which I like mixing up too. I like the idea of patchwork," explained Viard, who took over Chanel's creative direction following Lagerfeld's death in February.
"It's a return to the codes of the first Métiers d'Art runway, which took place in the salons of 31 Rue Cambon. The models smoked cigarettes and listened to Lou Reed. It was more of an attitude than a theme," said the designer of her inspiration.
This year's decoration was created in collaboration with film director Sofia Coppola, who had her own comments to make about Viard after the show: "I like her style, the way she brings together different elements. I admire the way she works and her ability to create pieces that you feel comfortable in, while maintaining Chanel's style."
The show was also attended by a number of actresses, including Kristen Stewart, Vanessa Paradis, Lily-Rose Depp, Margaret Qualley, Carole Bouquet and Marion Cotillard, who saw in the collection "a thrilling poetry," highlighting the "details in each jacket, right down to the pearl belts" as her favourite part of the show.
Penélope Cruz, the house's Spanish ambassador, was also enthusiastic. "It seemed like a marvellous tribute to me. All of Chanel's history is there and at the same time what she does is super modern. It has her stamp but Chanel is in every piece," stated the Oscar-winning actress.
There was general approval from all of the show's guests, who gave the house's ever-discreet creative director a standing ovation. "It was a question of time. Now we are happy with Virginia Viard," affirmed some French buyers at the show's exit as they commended the work that had gone into the collection.
As for Viard herself, the designer pondered the path that led to 31 Rue Cambon being recreated in the Grand Palais: "I always question the context, which has nothing to do with the way we lived decades ago: what would a woman like today? How would she wear it?" With her first Métiers d'Art collection, she looks to have found the right answers.
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