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Fit for a Castle: Chanel Métiers d’Art 2021 Honors History and the Atelier

This week at the Château de Chenonceau, Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard hoped to greet over 200 guests for the house’s Métiers d’Art 2021 show. The ongoing pandemic, however, forced France to make other plans, locking down for a second bout of isolation. Instead, the brand welcomed just one attendee, actress and house ambassador Kristen Stewart, to witness the marvel alone. The German photographer Juergen Teller captured it all for the world to see for his first campaign for Chanel.

Chanel Courtesy of Chanel.

Located in France’s Loire Valley, the chateau—also known as Le Château des Dames, “The Women’s Castle”—is an architectural paragon of the Renaissance, renowned for its Gothic beauty and royal history. Spanning the River Cher, its structure played host to storied females like King Henry II’s Italian-born wife, Catherine de Medici, and his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. The two women are known to have woven wonderment and personal details into nearly every space on the property—like De Medici’s double Cs that intertwine and evoke a Chanel emblem, seen repeatedly throughout the chateau; and the gardens seen on either side of the spectacle, designed by De Poitiers.

Chanel Courtesy of Chanel.

Another De Medici-influenced space was the grand gallery that stretches across the river as a grandiose bridge. Inside, the checkered floor played host to the ground of Chanel’s show, anchoring the inspiration, the ideas, and the fashion of très chic women who may wander The Women’s Castle in the future.

Preeminent design details seen throughout the property—including florals, the connected pathways of the parterres, and portraits of De Medici by François Clouet—were reimagined as embroidered motifs and accessory details. Black and white checkers from the floor were brought up, detailed for the modern era on a long skirt in a fringed geometric tweed patchwork and on sequinned miniskirts.

Chanel Courtesy of Chanel.

“Showing at the Château de Chenonceau, at the ‘Château des Dames,’ was an obvious choice. It was designed and lived in by women, including Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. It is a castle on a human scale,” said Viard. “We don’t know if Coco was directly inspired by her, but it is highly likely because she so admired Renaissance women. Her taste for lace ruffs and the aesthetic of certain pieces of her jewelry come from there. Deep down, this place is a part of Chanel’s history.”

History continues to sew a thread through each of the looks, with details dripping in reference to the elegant era. Pie crust neck collars create a dialogue with webbed chandelier-like necklaces; Coco’s love of lace ruffles reveals contemporary takes on gloves and blazer trim; and bags carrying each other from the inside out show the simplistic imagination of attractive invention.

Chanel Courtesy of Chanel.

Detailed shots by Teller also show snapshots of a double-C monogram print delicately inlaid on thick skirts that brush the ankle; two-tone platform sandals and tapered black boots with folded cuffs; hand-sewn beads and sequins that lift the fabric up, creating a one-of-a-kind multi-dimensional pattern on sleeves; and small Chanel box clutches worn around the neck by a thick strand of large pearls. There was also a wide black hat created by Paris-based accessories label Maison Michel that we couldn’t ignore, and embroidery inspired by the chateau in the style of a child’s toy in strass.

The finale showed us the bride we were waiting for, but of course with a twist, infused with more history. After King Henry II’s death, as the story goes, De Medici only wore black until her own demise. The last looks, à la funeral, were breathtaking odes to the last days of those who roamed the castle.

Chanel Courtesy of Chanel.

Under a long black velvet coat, we saw a model wearing a pale tweed bodysuit tapered by an elastic black leather belt; duster coats of tinsel with flared sleeves paired with trousers puckering closed by miniature bows down the shin; and, for several brides, a pointed hat trailing a long veil of thin tulle.

“I like everything to be mixed up, all the different eras, between the Renaissance and romanticism, between rock and something very girly,” added Viard, “It is all very Chanel.”




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