The scene was set, then, for a cinematic Franco-fest at a relatively scaled-back Chanel spring show at the Grand Palais, in Paris. Six towering white letters spelling out the brand’s name, dotted with neon lights, were positioned on a white painted catwalk in front of which white scaffolding chairs had been arranged at an appropriate distance. The letters were an evocative symbol of both simplicity and might – and Virginie Viard took the opportunity to hammer home the house codes. “This collection is a tribute to the muses of the house,” she said. Here are five things to know about the Chanel spring/summer 2021 show.
The show was a love letter to cinema – and life on the other side of the velvet rope
“I was thinking about actresses at the photocall, on the red carpet, that moment when they’re being called to by the photographers: their faces a little distracted, their attitude a little out of sync with the outfits they’re wearing,” said Virginie Viard. “This very lively side to cinema that happens beyond cinema.” In other words: life on the other side of the velvet rope, and one which Chanel has always had a big hand in defining. As the pre-show videos alluded to, Romy Schneider and Jeanne Moreau were famously friends of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, dropping in to her Paris apartment for tea and a fitting, discussing literature and lovers. And here, Viard showed everything a modern starlet might want in her wardrobe, from wide-legged jeans with a white Chanel-branded T-shirt with a bouclé jacket for popping to the shops, to an array of elegant, red-carpet-worthy evening gowns in black and white.
Pink denim was the surprise entry
Amongst all the feather-dusted gowns and trailing plumes of chiffon were some surprises: bubblegum pink denim, for one. Amongst pink denim jackets and quilted bags, Jill Kortleve showed off the high-waisted pink jeans to their best advantage, paired with a black bralette (another major trend for spring), a sheer cape and with a mini Chanel bag strung on a quilted chain strap around her waist. Note, too, the return of the Chanel T-bar sandals.
The jewellery was a highlight
Needing to spruce up a tired T-shirt? Layer up Chanel pearls and chains. As for a classic black pencil skirt? Try a pearl-and-rhinestone-studded chain belt slung across the hips. Chain-link leather chokers are easy-chic partners for black off-the-shoulder dresses, and a cream tweed short suit really should be worn with bows adorning the pockets, and a mini bag on a string of pearls dangling from the neck.
Chanel isn’t giving up on glamour
Trackpants? Please. Refusing to bow to potential pressure to reveal a collection entirely made of Chanel loungewear for all those double-C customers in plush lockdown situations, Viard sent out gowns destined for the red carpet, and the red carpet only. The first look out was a floor-length dress with an asymmetric neckline, paired with heels and a netted hair piece, with bows at the wrists. Elsewhere there were tweed and chiffon creations sporting a key detail and a micro trend we’ve seen elsewhere this season: cape detailing, which wafted in statesman-like fashion behind models as they walked.
The shoes had a retro vibe
Woven slingback sandals – the kind Schneider might have worn in La Piscine – were paired with multiple looks, lending a French-girl summer insouciance to the proceedings. Elsewhere, Viard brought back heeled T-bar sandals reminiscent of a style Keira Knightley, a face of the house, used to favour, back when she frequented the red carpet on the regular.