Chanel revealed its Le Chateau des Dames 2020 / 2021 Metiers d'Art Collection as a full runway show on Thursday, December 3, at a chateau in France.
However, this was a show with a difference. Although there were 67 beautifully crafted looks on show, there was no audience to appreciate them.
For the event, Chanel decamped to the spectacular Chateau de Chenonceau, built spanning the River Cher in France, to showcase its latest collection. Models, make-up artists, hairstylists, dressers, lighting technicians, music specialists and a host of hands from the atelier were all on hand at the chateau. Naturally, creative director Virginie Viard was there as, too, was director of fashion Bruno Pavlovsky. The only thing missing was an audience to enjoy it all.
The brand has experimented with differing formats to deal with Covid-19 restrictions, from a digital-only Cruise collection and couture show, to a spring / summer 2021 collection shown to a small, select audience. With huge resources at its disposal, and a reputation for staging elaborate shows, clearly it has been decided that, with or without an audience, nothing beats the spectacle of a runway.
Putting on a show of the scale of Chanel is no small undertaking. Up to 300 people are required, from models to catering. Unable to add an audience to that not insignificant number, without risking the health of all, Chanel opted to run the show minus the audience.
Instead, it called on photographer Juergen Teller to create a press kit dispatched to clients, displaying a handful of the key looks. The collection itself showed a younger, more carefree side than the Chanel under Karl Lagerfeld, with satin leggings worn under almost every look, and catsuits under the others.
There was floral-printed denim cut into floor-length skirts, and the famous house tweed arrived as sassy box-cut jackets, front split skirts and fitted full-length dresses. Cable knitting appeared as sleeveless tank tops, worn with velvet trousers, and yet more velvet as luxurious bodysuits and ruched dresses.
A beautiful collection, filled with the drop waists and sleek silhouettes Chanel is so famous for, but here updated with Bardot cut jackets and metallic tweed dress coats.
Created by a designer who gathers momentum with every new collection, this was a stunning display of Chanel rethought for the modern woman. It's just a pity there was no audience on hand to relish it.