For over half a century, Coco Chanel devoured inspiration from every possible source – from the Impressionist skies of Normandy to the Baroque angels of Venice to the clean scents of the Aubazine orphanage, where she grew up. And over the last couple of seasons, Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard has rather successfully delved into Gabrielle’s past – from recreating the humble garden of the Abbey of Aubazine for the label’s Spring Summer 2020 couture outing to taking us to the Château de Chenonceau last week, which was designed and lived in by women, including Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici. One couldn’t possibly assume for sure that Coco was inspired by these Renaissance women, but there was a major Chanel reference in the chateau as Catherine de’ Medici’s emblem was a monogram composed of two intertwined Cs, just like that of Chanel. Also, Gabrielle had a penchant for lace ruffs and jewellery reminiscent of that era.
In fact, in 1936, Gabrielle Chanel wrote an article on the women of that era: “I have always been struck by a strange feeling of sympathy and admiration towards the women who lived from François Ier to Louis XIII, perhaps because I find them all to be great, with a magnificent simplicity and a majesty imbued with onerous duties.”
Staged in the grand gallery and attended by the house’s muse Kristen Stewart, this luminous litany of ensembles comprised a long black lace dress composed of lattices accented with studs, crafted by Lemarié and the top of a damask dress was brought to life with intricate embroidery rendered entirely by Lesage. And the final touch of elegance – the two-tone sparkling silver platform sandals and the tapered black boots with fold-over cuffs and high heels were made by Massaro.
The show opened with a pale pink skirt suit worn with grey leggings which had gleaming gold embroidery followed by a beige tweed cardigan with fur accents teamed with a monochrome chequered mini sequinned skirt, which mimicked the flooring of the cloisters. The highpoint was definitely the recreation of Le Château des Dames facade on bags and the waist of the off-shoulder black dress with a high and low helime, which was worn with a pair of grey leggings. The third blazer look had a lapel with embroideries inspired by the flowers from the two gardens, one created by Diane de Poitiers and the other by Catherine de’ Medici, located on either side of the castle. All in all, the collection featured plenty of noir numbers like a long coat in black velvet and the label’s signature tweed lunch suits. It seems that after the death of King of France Henri II, Catherine de’ Medici only wore black which explained its dramatic extrapolation in the line up. The denim pieces, the cross-body logo pouches and the leggings lent it a playful, girlie and of-the-moment touch.
Superimpose Virginie’s curiosity about Chanel’s fabled past with the savoir-faire of les petites mains and you’ve got the blueprint of the métiers d’art show. Grand, beguiling and escapist and one wouldn’t expect anything less than that from the house of Chanel.