Five thoughts on Chanel's nightclub-setting autumn/winter 2021 runway show
Night and day
No extravagant set; just an intimate, night out with the girls
The hallmark of every Chanel show — at least since the year 2000 — has been its sprawling runway show sets that were incredibly detailed. Paris' Grand Palais has been transformed into a beach, a supermarket, and even the site of a Chanel-branded spaceship launch, just to name a few. The autumn/winter 2021 show however, was a far more intimate setting. Creative director Virginie Viard was inspired by the shows the late Karl Lagerfeld held in the early days. "And I thought of the shows that Karl would tell me about, back in the day, a long time ago, when the models would dress themselves and do their own make-up", Viard explains in the collection notes.
It was a reminder of pre-pandemic norms and perhaps how things could be once again
I don't know about you, but I long for late-night hangs and dancing in clubs without first having to go through a COVID-19 test. And the Chanel autumn/winter 2021 show was a reminder of a time not too long ago where we all could do all that and more. The boudoir-like interiors of Chez Castel also provided Viard with a sense of juxtaposition — the collection's puffed-up outerwear ballooning around the small confines of a warm and inviting environment. Dark and dimly lit, there's nothing quite like spending the night in such a place where the only way of realising how long you've been inside is by stepping out into the early morning light. Ah, memories.
Juxtaposition was realised in the pairings of hard and soft materials
In the collection's more tactile moments, Viard paired heavy Chanel tweed with the soft allure of chiffon. Then there were ski suits that were quilted and emblazoned with red-and-blue prints and branded with Chanel, and then worn with strappy sandals. The irreverent stylings served as a sort of homage to the late Stella Tennant, a Lagerfeld favourite and one of Chanel's most famed faces. "Today some of these silhouettes make me think of Stella Tennant’s allure, the way she wore certain pieces, it was so Chanel," Viard expresses.
It was après-ski but not really
There were instances were looks in the autumn/winter 2021 collection referred to skiing. It was evident in the aforementioned quilted ski suits, the faux fur boots, and the heavy, padded outerwear made from weather-resistant materials. But more than that, the collection was felt more chic, winter holiday than actual après-ski. If anything, the collection was made more for the girl who looked as though she went for a bout of skiing but actually sat by the side and watched her friends trip and fall in the snow. Nevertheless, it was cool, with a kind of '70s nonchalance thrown in for good measure.
Chanel will always look like Chanel
This marks Viard's fourteenth outing as creative director at Chanel. And no matter where she's taken the fashion house, Chanel will always be Chanel. It's become more than just Coco Chanel or Karl Lagerfeld's vision for the house. It's an institution that's become so distinct that no creative director — visionary or otherwise — could disrupt its well-tailored look. The autumn/winter 2021 collection is proof of that with its multiple references to Lagerfeld-era Chanel, established house codes, and reworked silhouettes.