When it comes to fashion, famed film director Jean Cocteau did not mince words. “Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time,” he once said. “Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time.” Within the cyclical nature of fashion, Chanel has always managed to curtail the ugliness and uphold timelessness. Whether it’s because of house codes locked in classic silhouettes or a penchant for not only creating but redefining the LBD over decades, Chanel does not, in fact, become ugly with time. Its cruise 2021 collection, presented today, upholds this truth.
“Echoing the extreme modernity of Cocteau’s film, I wanted something quite rock,” creative director Virginie Viard stated in the show notes. “A look that recalls as much the modernity of the sixties as that of punk.”
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Images accompanying the collection were shot at Gabrielle Chanel’s recently restored apartment at 31 rue Cambon, by Inez & Vinoodh. In this same space, Chanel hosted friends in high art places, Cocteau included. Even the location of the video is thoughtful, shot at the Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence, where Cocteau filmed Testament of Orpheus. “Because the simplicity, the precision and the poetry of Cocteau’s film made me want to create a very clean collection, with a very distinct two-tone, made up of bright white and deep black.”
The show’s references are conspicuous, yet seamless. The decades Viard alludes to intertwine together, an obtuse sprinkling of hot topics. Pink tweed is paired with fishnets, reminiscent of both the roaring ’20s and the rockabilly ’80s, macramé capes are edged in bohemian fringe, and the pristine white boots that stomped down the makeshift runway look as if they belong to Madonna. Or Twiggy.
Amongst the standout accessories, a lambskin garter bag is belted to a model’s thigh, in what will surely be a street style staple (once street style exists again, that is). On the beauty front, and to the chagrin of Gen Z, hair was swept into deep side parts and heavy liner rimmed their eyes, the latter of which Joan Jett would be proud of.
Speaking of friends, the atelier has many. In lieu of a celebrity front row, brand ambassadors watched from afar and sent in personal love notes. Margot Robbie wrote, “Dreaming of the days when I can jump on a plane to be with my Chanel family.”
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