Year after year, Chanel’s Métiers d’art shows have been an elaborate reminder of the unique skill of its artisan partners. This year was no exception. The Chanel Métiers d’art 2021 collection was unveiled at Le19M, a brand new Rudy Ricciotti-designed establishment that has become a craftsmanship hub and nexus for the eight houses behind Chanel’s codes.
This rolodex of artisan houses includes but is not limited to: embroiderer and tweed maker Lesage, hatter and milliner Maison Michel, feather worker and flower maker Lemarié and goldsmith Goossens. Symbolically, Le19M also conveys the significance of 19—both as a nod to the 19th arrondissement of Paris but, more importantly, to Gabrielle Chanel’s affinity with the number.
And while those following the trajectory of Virginie Viard are familiar with her love for elaborate and elegant couture, this collection, in particular, was a testament to her ability to have fun as well. As a teaser to the show, the maison released a series of illustrations and animated films reminiscent of the candy-coloured cartoons of our childhoods.
In one, Chanel model and muse Loli Bahia is seen traversing on an exquisite Maison Michel hat. And in another, Pan Haowen is seen waltzing through intricate patterns of embellishments and thread. In press notes for the show, Viard shares: “I wanted each model, drawn by a different illustrator, to represent one of the maisons d’art. I wanted to illustrate each house as best as possible, but with a twist.”
This celebration of inimitable creativity was present on Viard’s drawing board, too. Chanel’s usual couture cornerstones were offset by metropolitan detailing. Case in point: tweed coats styled to bare slivers of skin, purposefully stacked statement necklaces and graffiti-reminiscent embroidery. Athleisure elements such as cropped knitted tops and slouchy jackets were interspersed by pockets of unexpected colour.
Tying this together was the very beauty and intricacy of artisanal savoire-fare in the form of delicate wisps of feathers on evening gowns, pearl-adorned pumps and buttery leather gloves; minute details to some, but to the others, a looking glass into the wonderful world of workmanship.