Chanel’s new haute couture collection draws inspiration from its past to look at the future

Text by: Gianmarco Gronchi

It is no coincidence that Chanel’s new F/W 2021-2022 Haute Couture collection has been presented at the Palais Galliera in Paris, home of the fashion museum. The clothes designed by creative director Virginie Viard are cultured, refined and designed to become modern icons of the rue Cambon historic maison. While inside the museum it is possible to visit the exhibition Gabrielle Chanel. Manifeste de Mode, Chanel’s sartorial creations a are in the spotlight on the outside, in a declared celebration of the brand’s identity that manages to be effective but not banal.

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This is a collection rooted in art history, as Viard herself explains: “I started with the works of Berthe Morisot, Marie Laurencin and Édouard Manet. There are Impressionist-inspired dresses, skirts that look like paintings and a long white satin dress dotted with black bows like Morisot’s…”. Thus, Chanel’s winter is tinged with colours. The house’s iconic pieces are enriched with feathers and sequins. Tweed tailleurs and skirts are enriched with polychromatic shades. The dress with a wide Peter Pan neckline and a flounced skirt below the knee turns yellow. Who cares about grey winter colours anymore? The inspiration from impressionist painters is particularly evident in the black and white dresses with embroidered and appliquéd bows, which also pay homage to Mademoiselle Chanel herself, who has been pictured several times in similar outfits. Laminated tweed is clearly at the heart of the winter collection, but Viard dares, adding sequins and feathers. This solution combines the warmth of the material, which is suitable for harsh climates, with a playful and enchanting atmosphere, the true hallmark of this collection. The very elegant wide-brimmed hats are decorated with pastel-coloured roses, while drapes and lace chant a hymn to joie de vivre. The comparison with the history of the Chanel maison requires the use of iconic models, such as tailleurs and petite robes, but intelligently reinterpreted with a very precise idea. Viard’s vision is clear, and this is fundamental for an haute couture collection. Wedding dresses are a must for an houte couture défilé. Here too, Viard proposes soft, floaty flounces that give the piece movement and lightness. A second minimal wedding dress, with shoulders just highlighted, was worn by the beautiful Margaret Qualley, who enchanted the audience at the end of the show.