Set in the picturesque Palais Galliera fashion museum, the Chanel autumn/winter haute couture 2021 collection was an in-motion painting of sorts. Inspired by the colourful Impressionist virtuoso of artists Berthe Morisot, Marie Laurencin and Édouard Manet, the affair marked the maison’s first show with a live audience present since the upheaval of the pandemic.
And a fitting event for colour it was, with Virginie Viard’s rediscovery of Gabrielle Chanel’s 1880s-reminiscent dresses setting off a whirlwind of Impressionist-style dresses, jackets, skirts and coats down the venue’s airy courtyard. Complete with a star-studded front row—which included actress Daisy Edgar-Jones, as well as director and show collaborator Sofia Coppola—an air of brewing optimism reached even those watching from behind a screen.
Light, airy and resoundingly romantic, each piece donned motifs—both subtle and marked—of Viard’s deep dive into the world of art. The painterly repertoire consisted of tweed coats peppered with paint strokes, tulle pompom-embellished paletot jackets, full-sequinned blouses and abstract yellow daisies on a coat-as-canvas piece. And for the eagle-eyed, a pleasant surprise in the form of buttons reminiscent of palettes, embellished with rhinestones in place of paint. The statement pieces were primed with an accessory of a different kind: signature faux-hawks for Viard’s touch of rock and roll.
Chanel muse and ambassador Margaret Qualley’s finale look was no exception. The Once Upon A Time In Hollywood actress graced the runway in a satin bridal gown, topped off with a sequinned veil and hat, perhaps a look most telling of Viard’s melding of French charm and quintessential English gardens. As the show closed, a hint of Coppola’s charm arose to end off the show as Qualley—elfin, charming and delicately mysterious—made her way up the museum’s grand stairs, eventually throwing a powdery pink bouquet into the audience. A stroke of impending good luck, indeed.