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Yesterday from Paris, Chanel digitally debuted its haute couture Fall/Winter 2021 collection. Ever since Virginie Viard took over as Creative Director last year, she has looked to the history of the house for inspiration—typically found in the unique character of its founder, Gabrielle Chanel. This time, however, she looked to her late predecessor, Karl Lagerfeld, for edge, spunk, and sophistication.
“I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of Le Palace at dawn,” said Viard. “With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers, and lots of jewelry. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel. Karl would go to Le Palace; he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed up women, who were very eccentric too.”
Le Palace opens its imaginative doors to thirty looks, presented in gorgeous images captured by Swedish photographer Mikael Jansson. Dark and raw, bright and splendid, the photos guide us through an array of looks that flirt with both opulence and simplicity. Viard’s mind wandered through an array of inspirations—like German paintings and heroines from the 19th century—that resulted in luxe looks of tweed wondrously embellished with stones, sequins, and beads.
Short dresses cinched at the waist, bolero jackets, corolla skirts, and tweed blazers with contemporary twists are complemented by long drop-waist dresses, black trouser suits with diamond braid detailing, and matching sets reminiscent of another era. Some looks, too, are even complemented by precious jewels from the house’s high jewelry collections.
This collection is in stark contrast with the last haute couture collection by Viard which was inspired by Gabrielle Chanel’s upbringing in the abbey at Aubazine. “I like working like this, going in the opposite direction of what I did last time” she continued. “I wanted complexity, sophistication.”
To complete the virtual presentation, Jansson created videos for five key looks, available online. And tomorrow, the house is presenting a mini-documentary of three episodes shot in the haute couture ateliers.
“For me, Haute Couture is romantic by its very essence,” Viard added. “There is so much love in each one of these silhouettes.”