Monumental light-bulb encrusted letters spelling CHANEL sparkled over the runway at the Grand Palais on the last day of Paris Fashion Week prefacing a collection celebrating the cinema industry. It brought a pang of nostalgia for better times during this reduced virus-hit season that has been notable for its lack of star power.
Like Milan before it, Paris has undertaken an unusual fashion season for Spring-Summer 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The nine-day calendar was a mix of ready-to-wear runway collections with masked guests in seated rows, in-person presentations and completely digital shows streamed online with promotional videos.
Here are some highlights from Tuesday:
The American actors who usually attend Chanel, the highlight of Paris Fashion Week, stayed away. But designer Virginie Viard dreamed of more glamorous times. She produced an optimistic collection channeling the Hollywood or Cannes movie star machine and its media circus, appropriately placing French Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard on the front row.
“I was thinking about actresses at the photocall, coming off the red carpet: their faces a little distracted, their attitude a little out of sync with the outfits they’re wearing ... this very lively side to cinema that happens beyond cinema,” Viard said.
It produced a diverse display of high-class glamour that mingled with the casual -- in a collection notable for its shoulder shapes that were exaggeratedly round and wide, or diagonal and flat.
For the high-class, there were ecru and black tweed skirt suits -- the house signature. The best was a stiff knit black number with giant round shoulders, uber-cinched waist, giant tubular arms and large white visible shirt cuffs and collar. It cut a beautiful silhouette against the pure-white illuminated runway.
Some of the casual looks, however let the collection down. Large prints in vibrant colour, such as a turtle-neck and cross-over dress, featured blown-up letters spelling the house name to evoke neon lights. But the colours clashed and it sometimes seemed as if the designer was trying too hard to be hip.
That said, there were plenty of stand-out moments. A shoulderless black mini dress was the definition of chic, with a sheer silk black overskirt that fluttered gently to the ankles to sensually reveal the legs. A loose black silk top had dramatic swooshes of white feathers across it like a sash.
On a note of nostalgia, this could be one of the last Chanel shows in the Grand Palais for years. The venue has said it is closing from December 2020 to March 2023 for renovations, to reopen before the Paris Olympics of 2024.