Last night, December 7, at le19M - a vast and contemporary structure imagined by Chanel and designed by Rudy Ricciotti - Chanel Métiers d'art 2021/22 show was held in Paris, a dark, moody yet playful tribute to Chanel's key codes.
The space itself is one to acknowledge before all else. Here at le19M - 19 for the 19th arrondissement of Paris and one of Gabrielle Chanel's emblematic numbers - that the embroiderers Lesage and Atelier Montex, the goldsmith Goossens, the hatter Maison Michel, the feather worker Lemarié, the pleater Lognon, and the shoemaker Massaro are now gathered: "It's a vast, very open space, with a façade adorned with threads of white concrete, a garden, beautiful walkways, and a large gallery where exhibitions will also be held," explains Virginie Viard in a press release.
“I asked Dimitri Chamblas to choreograph the film that will be presented before the show. The invitation box includes a collection of texts by the rappers Claude MC Solaar and Abd Al Malik, and writers such as Sarah Chiche, Anne Berest and Nina Bouraoui, recounting their vision of the Maisons d’art residing at le19M. There’s also a series of postcards taken from the animated films created by REMEMBERS. I wanted each model, drawn by a different illustrator, to represent one of the Maisons d’art and evolve in a little story inspired by a CHANEL icon. I wanted to illustrate each House as best as possible, but with a twist.”
The collection is reflective of these sentiments. Sophistication meets metropolitan. Tweed jackets are interwoven with sweatshirts, motifs of graffiti are embroidered in coloured beads. Coats that sweep the ground are worn open, still revealing very little, save for knitted pedal pushers and mere moments of skin. The palette is heavy, with shards of light from royal blues, purples, silvers and reds peeking through, nodding to rich indulgence.
The whole collection feels like a cocoon of sorts, an invitation to go within with quiet confidence. Heavy tweed coats layered with long-line skirts and plush cardigans envelop models, challenging our need to see sex and excitement in everything and offering an alternative that speaks to another part of us, the part that wants to keep it all hidden away for the sake of mystery.
There are moments of fun, though. Like a jewel-toned-purple three piece set consisting of a knit crop top, Bermuda shorts, and and oversized cardigan finished with a delicate gold body chain, or silver knitted cardigans that peek through the layers of tweed, sitting like chainmail, fastened with a single silver 'CC' button. There is something subversive and unexpectedly cool about the floor length coats, buttoned to the chin, and then fluidly left open at the waist – jersey tights peeking through as though we perhaps weren't supposed to see them.
For accessories, two-tone black and beige Mary-Janes were adorned with large pearls on the heels as another signature nod to Chanel's classic codes. Long leather gloves layered with jewellery of different metals reminded us not only of the old guard, but current creative director Virginie Viard's loosely punk interpretation that is emerging throughout each collection, a new DNA being built into the old as opposed to on top of.