For her autumn/winter 2021 show, Virginie Viard married her love of après-ski with Parisian chic in the ’70s, staging a show in the fabled Castel nightclub for the post-lockdown era. Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen brings you five things to know about the collection.
The collection celebrated classic outerwear
Ah, the coat! Do you remember wearing one? Through the lengthy lens of lockdown, few wardrobe staples now look more alluring than the coat. Once taken for granted, it is the symbol of the outside world and the freedoms we hope to regain this autumn. Timed for September, Virginie Viard opened her Chanel collection with a series of classic overcoats, all tweedy and bouclé-ed, dying to get slipped on for a day—or a night—on the town. Crafted in the fabrics of the heritage menswear, they felt borrowed from that essential wardrobe we now look to in a post-pandemic shopping climate: timeless, enduring staples, even better when they’re made by Chanel. Those types of pieces framed a collection that embraced our newfound appetite for permanent glamour, but indulged in the more carefree side of emergence, too: the cocktail dresses of nightlife and the travel-specific dress codes of après-ski.
Bruno Pavlovsky said cocktail dresses are back in business
“What we have seen is that people are much more comfortable with value pieces,” Chanel’s president of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, said on a video call before the film launched, reflecting on our wardrobe desires during and after the confinement period. “There is this idea that a nice, well-made Chanel jacket is a kind of investment piece. I don’t like that word too much, but yes, they buy strong and valuable pieces they will be able to wear.” Recently, he said, things had taken a new turn. “Early on it was more casual things. Now, they’re buying everything, from jackets to cocktail dresses. I think people want to be ready for things to reopen. That’s the mindset. It’s hard to say that it’s about one part of the wardrobe more than another. When you like something, it’s for you. You do not hesitate.”
The show was filmed in the Castel nightclub
The longing for joie de vivre that Pavlovsky was talking about brought the Chanel show to Castel, the fabled Parisian members’ club, which housed its fair amount of mischief in the ’60s and ’70s. To the feelgood tones of Diana Ross’s theme from Mahogany, Viard and her models staged a show in the club, which turned into a kind of glam rock chalet party that transcended time and place—a timeless sense of joy and exuberance, you might say. Viard explained she had fused two of her great loves: “The ambiance of ski holidays, which I adore, and a certain idea of cool Parisian chic, from the 1970s to now.” Pavlovsky said the show was a tribute to the life we miss: “It’s about tomorrow. It’s about happiness. It’s about social life. It’s about energy. And that energy is what we want to see all around; in the boutiques, but more importantly, in social life.”
Virginie Viard gave us some super directional pieces
On her path to a wardrobe for a reopened world, Viard didn’t just exercise an essential wardrobe, but more than a few season-specific things, too. After all, there are only so many investment pieces you can invest in. Furry supersized Yeti boots and teddy bear Chanel suits felt like instant collector’s items for the slope, or indeed the city. Quilted jumpsuits offered the Chanel version of a garment that’s been making the rounds on the post-lockdown runways, while quilted salopettes offered an adapted alternative. In a similarly niche wardrobe category, a silver glitter romper made a particularly directional proposal for a back-to-reality look. And densely crafted and highly tactile cocktail dresses interpreted the idea of comfort-wear—that unforgettable lockdown trend—with nightlife codes. Chanel-ified Fair Isle jumpers riffed on the same idea, making an eternally desirable classic just a little more covetable.
Chanel looks forward to returning to live shows
After a year in lockdown, Chanel is getting a hang of the digital show format. But while Pavlovsky said the brand has enjoyed exploring new formats, nothing beats a live show. “In the future, I think we’ll continue to do a mix of a live show and more sophisticated, inspiring images for those who can’t come to see the show,” he predicted. “At the end of the day, it’s most important to listen to our customers and try to evaluate what’s right for tomorrow. As a brand, we need to connect as much as possible. For us, that’s six times a year. Our customers want to feel this sense of novelty. We’ll continue to focus on this kind of storytelling, from show to boutique. For sure, we’ll have to work differently on the image of the show for those who cannot travel, but this time, you’re seeing another level of that.”
This article was originally published on British Vogue