DETAIL FROM ATELIER CHANEL, PH. SARAH VAN RIJ
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Chanel plays on opposites, with layered taffeta and velvet

The Grande Mademoiselle’s baroque austerity and the romantic aura of Caspar David Friedrich and paintings by Friedrich von Amerling – juxtaposed to Grace Jones dancing at Le Palace

Chanel plays on opposites. While the Spring-Summer 2020 Haute Couture collection was inspired by the monastic rigor and mystic purity of the Aubazine Abbey, where Gabrielle Chanel spent her childhood, the thirty looks of the Fall-Winter HC 2020-21 were marked by sparkling opulence and glamorous jewelry. For Virginie Viard’s Chanel woman is a punk princess, emerging from Le Palace at dawn. The outrageous nights at Les Années Palace, with Karl Lagerfeld among the protagonists, became the main inspiration for the collection, rather than another chapter of Gabrielle’ saga. Kaiser Karl would love to accompany these elegant ladies to Le Palace and share a fiery shimmering night. The collection plot is even richer and more varied. The baroque austerity of the Grande Mademoiselle and the romantic aura of the pantings of Caspar David Friedrich, Friedrich von Amerling and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, juxtaposed with Grace Jones dancing at Le Palace, in the roaring Parisian eighties. Jean-Baptiste Lully’s evanescent harpsichord mixed with the rhythm of Pull Up To The Bumper.

Layered taffeta and sumptuous velvet, the aristocratic wild spirit of the Grand Siècle heroines and the romantic attitude of early victorian female portraits, characterize the long dresses. Short dresses with cinched waists and corolla skirts rustle among ink black trousers suits adorned by diamond-like braiding. Feathers and big hair, theatrical and bold attitudes. A vibrant cornucopia of sequins, strass, beads and stones. All the Maison’s embroidery partners, including the Métiers d’art Lesage and Montex, as well as Lemarié and Goossens, have contributed to make the Chanel signature tweeds more precious and unpredictable than ever. Tweed appears to be a visual  metaphor for the unique. I like working like this – says Virginie Viard –, going in the opposite direction of what I did last time. I wanted complexity, sophistication. I thought about paintings, but it was more German paintings. I really had Karl’s world in mind. Black and anthracite grey tonalities illuminated with flashes of pink. Painted laces enrich bolero jackets next to tweed made of silver streaked ribbons. A jacket with a smocked waist over tapered boot-trousers in black suede, evoking an ultra-rock romantic mood. Trasparency plays out in an organza cape worn over a silk dress, along a slender silhouettes parade. Asymmetrical black moiré, punky make-up and fabulous jewels from the Chanel High Jewellery, organza and velvet petals embroidered and assembled into colorful textures as if blooming on dresses. The wedding dress in off-white taffeta is sculpted in dramatic volumes and embroidered with graphic leaves of smocked organza and satin. The extraordinary savoir faire of the Maison Chanel at its best. A paradoxically rich and light femininity embodies Viard’s creative path.

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