KARL LAGERFELD INSPIRES THE CHANEL FW2021 COUTURE COLLECTION

Discover the look from the whole Chanel fall-winter 2020-2021 couture collection designed by the artistic director of the fashion house Virginie Viard and photographed by Mikael Jansson.

By Balthazar Malevolent

KARL LAGERFELD INSPIRES THE CHANEL FW2021 COUTURE COLLECTION

"I was thinking of quirky ladies," Virginie Viard tells of her fall haute couture line for Chanel. In particular, Viard remembered Karl Lagerfeld heading off to parties with his sometime muse, the madcap Princess Diane de Beauvau-Craon, who as a teenage debutante got an American crewcut to give a kind of punk edge to the beautiful but detested pink dress her mother had chosen for her coming-out ball. "The dream for me is to live with her around," Lagerfeld said of de Beauvau-Craon when he spoke to Vogue ("The Country Girl," June 1990), "because life must never be flat. She offers a spirit of light and she is deeply spiritual."

In an edited collection of 30 pieces, after the simplicity of the spring couture, influenced by Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's schoolgirl uniforms at the Aubazine convent, Viard decided to swing back to quiet opulence for fall. Since the collection will be primarily seen via photography (Mikael Jansson shot the look book and haute couture customers will also receive a portfolio of more documentary and informative pictures), Viard was thinking of "things I would not do in a show — punk fashion, fine jewelry." Such Chanel haute bijoux include yellow diamond lions (Chanel herself was a Leo), and Viard mentions that "I love them".

In addition, the only costume jewelry used in the collection is the Goossens cabochon stones — the storied Parisian house whose creator Robert Goossens collaborated with Chanel in the late 1950s. Viard uses those classic, Byzantine-inspired jewels on a black and white tweed jacket as embroidery elements. Tweed figures big in the day and night collection: a knee-length tunic worn over boot-leg trousers, or a minidress with the classic Chanel braid trim reworked in rhinestones. There is more impressive trompe l'oeil in the allover Lesage embroidery of a lean jacket worn with an ankle-long skirt, or in the Emmanuelle Vernoux – embroidered sleeves of a decorous wool ball gown, or in the Montex sequin and wool tufts of an off-the-shoulder mini dress. Ten looks are designed using tweeds made from Vimar 1991 fantasy yarns, another luxury fashion supplier recently acquired by Chanel to add such magical names as the Lesage, Montex, and Cécile Henri embroiderers and plumassier Lemarié to its stable.

Viard is always keen to highlight the remarkable work of the great suppliers of Paris, but she does so with an elegance that actually seems ideal.

The de Beauvau-Craon touch erupts in the form of a short frothy taffeta dress and faille ball tops, or a full-skirted retro cocktail dress of floral black and white lace spliced with lacquered pink lace — Viard calls it "my doll" — and in trendy feather mohawk bangs worn in the hair, and lace-up court shoes that would have been suitable for dancing the night away in the great '80s nightspots, such as Le Palace and Les Bain Douches.

Yet Viard also offers elegant sophistication in items that include a sheath of inky faille with bishop sleeves or a formal evening gown of gray steel silk velvet, discreetly dusted with waist and cuff embroidery, and jackets often worn with all-in-one stocking pant boots. The looks are best characterized by Viard as "casual and grand," and this is a well-behaved couture that whispers but never cries out.

"Haute couture?" Viard's questions. "It is forever; it is for always."

Still waiting for Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens men's digital shows to be published later today on Paris Fashion Week official website.

Chanel Couture Fall 2020.
Chanel Couture Fall 2020.
Chanel Couture Fall 2020.
Chanel Couture Fall 2020.
Chanel Couture Fall 2020.
Chanel Couture Fall 2020.
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