The Chanel cruise 2021 / 2022 show took place on Tuesday evening, set in the magnificent surroundings of the Carrieres de Lumieres in Les Baux de Provence, France.
A disused quarry (the name literally means quarry of light), the vaulted space left inside the mountain after centuries of excavation has long been used as an art space.
Drawing on the deep friendship between Chanel's founder, Gabrielle Chanel, and the artist, poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, the predominantly black-and-white collection was inspired by Cocteau's 1960 film The Testament of Orpheus, which used the quarry as its setting.
Watching the film again recently, Chanel's creative director, Virginie Viard, explained to Vogue that she was struck by how the film was "so modern, so fresh and so strong", and was compelled to conjure a monochromatic, graphic collection that would hold its own against the soaring space.
The result was a 66-look collection that drew together many threads of reference.
The dashed-off stars that Cocteau signed against his name in correspondence were scattered across draped mini skirts, black on white, while objets d'art collected by Chanel herself for her apartment appeared drawn on billowing shirts and dresses as rough outlines of lions, doves and even faces. The lucky symbols that Gabrielle kept close also appeared, such as golden charms stitched on to a white tweed jacket.
In a nod to the 1960s, Viard sent out brief mini dresses with glossy white Chelsea ankle boots. For a harder, more punky edge, every skirted look was styled with fishnet tights, giving a downplayed feel, as graphic tees were paired with classic Chanel jackets, in the way everyone under the age of 50 actually wears it.
Loosely woven woollen tops featured holes and were covered with sketched doves, as a mini skirt and trouser suit carried white studded polka dots on black leather.
But amid the looks came pieces that were pure Chanel. A below-the-knee skirt was slashed till the thigh and worn with a boxy jacket, while a long skirt in a delicate print started as dense velvet around the hips, before falling away to fluid chiffon. Teamed with a velvet bolero, it was extraordinary.
Another cropped jacket, now with a collar, appeared over a full midi skirt, while delicate flowered embroidery crept up sleeves and around high-waisted trousers. Elsewhere, a longline tweedy print dress with a contrasting, knitted top was a delight.
A new, relaxed direction came via shirt dresses and fluid kaftans, in either graphic prints or dazzling white, which will resonate in this region, and add to Chanel's stable of wide-legged trousers, while the finale was a series of bias-cut velvet evening dresses, featuring leather ruffles and worn under crocheted capes.
A thoughtful collection, it carried enough of the classic codes to satisfy the most die-hard client, while offering an eye-catching array of younger, fresher pieces that will speak to a younger generation; the crowd that already wears a T-shirt under their Chanel jacket.