Chanel’s artistic director Virginie Viard unveiled the ground-breaking virtual resort 2021 collection, set to a magical backdrop reminiscent of the South of France or Capri.
“For me, it was the sentiment of the South of France or Capri, where we had planned to show. It’s about the whole Mediterranean area: everything light and practical, with no grand gowns,” said Virginie Viard.
Faced with an unprecedented time, Viard sought to explore fashion’s new position in the world whilst still remaining sensitive to the suffering of those around the world. The resort collection seemed to do this by representing a world that does not exist within a world that does, a kind of escape from reality.
By combining the very real world of fashion and clothing with a fantastical backdrop that is not quite one place in particular, Viard created the new show as a “balade”, meaning a stroll, in this case around the Mediterranean coast.
The collection is soft, occasionally colourful and feminine, demonstrating Viard’s aim in the making of the clothes and show.
“I didn’t want the [resort] show to be the opposite of the current situation—not something too sad that is not the essence of Chanel. For me, Chanel is a treasure, a refuge that looks after you and does you good, like life itself.”
The collection not only pays tribute to the memory of Karl Lagerfeld, pays tribute to the memory of Mademoiselle Coco Chanel but most prominently reflects the Viard’s own interpretation of the brand. An interpretation that is feminine and is in direct response to the unique circumstances of the present.
The set is magical but stripped, unlike the extravagant recreation of the Eiffel tower or the full-scale Chanel rocket ship as previously seen in runway shows. Viard’s vision for the brand to be more sustainable and to adapt to the times but still pays tribute to the past taking inspiration from when Karl Lagerfeld photographed the Villa Malaparte which can be seen in the backdrop.
“I think that what is most important is to be able to link what we are doing tomorrow with what has been done in the past. We can have another perspective, but at the end of the day, there is the brand and with it the past, its code.” Chanel’s president of fashion activities at Chanel and Chanel SAS Bruno Pavlovosky explained in an interview with Vogue Australia.
The iconic tweed tailored suit is featured but with different elements such as a slit in the skirt and with less figure hugging silhouettes. The pieces are light and timeless, and are designed to “always work” as Viard explained in an interview from February 2019.
The black silk skirts, tops and dresses with subtle sparkles can be imagined on the beach or at dinner. The garments call to mind references of French New Wave cinema, especially Bridgette Bardot in Godard’s movie set on the roof of the Villa Malaparte.
“The references are always the same: holidays, actresses,” Viard said. “It’s charming, sexy, easy and refined.”
The collection is subtle and sustainable with Viard reusing garments and materials from previous collections due to the conditions of lockdown. Viard used the existing stock which not only created a sustainable line but also an ethical one which kept the jobs of Chanel’s manufacturers.
“We reused everything we had: all the leftover buttons and thread. We made the knits with yarns we had in stock. That saved us time,” she said.
As well as this some of the garments were made of sustainable silk and cotton that have won the GOTS certification (Global Organic Textile Standard) which requires a high-level environmental criterion.
The collection was not radical but it was right for the time, subtle, sustainable and elegant.
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