Chanel is back with an attitude. This is the time when designers start presenting their annual cruise collections which usually involve far-flung locales and beachy fashions. But, Chanel’s Cruise 2021 collection instead kept things close to home, traveling to Carrières de Lumières, a quarry-turned-art-exhibit near Marseille — an 8-hour drive from the capital. There, Chanel embraced the signatures of the house with an infusion of French punk.
The show opened with a series of monochromatic looks, classic suit sets in black and white. But, throughout the show, layered t-shirts, fishnets under miniskirts, and heavily layered jewelry offered a Chanel for a new generation of Gen Z fans. The styling — especially the layered jewelry and bralettes layered over contrasting tees and tops — was a nod to the platform serving a new era of fashion inspiration: Tik Tok. There was even a series of caped black looks reminiscent of the WitchTok trend.
Light, floaty silhouettes that come with a collection intended for travel to warm locales were present, but the collection held onto a downtown-like city sensibility. Models wore pointed white boots, and throughout the collection, pieces were embellished with fringe — whether it be on bags, the hem of skirts, or even in the form of capes. In many ways, the collection felt like a continuation of what was presented for Fall/Winter 2021 in March — an ode to celebratory dressing, meant for a nightclub or drinks on the town.
Creative Director Virginie Viard cited both Coco Chanel and director Jean Cocteau’s ‘Testament of Orpheus’ (which was filmed in part at the same locale as the show) as sources of inspiration — with dove-printed lace and swirly graphic patterns emulating the surrealist ‘60s bent of the film. "Echoing the extreme modernity of Cocteau's film, I wanted something quite rock,” Viard explains in the show notes. “Lots of fringes, in leather, beads and sequins, t-shirts bearing the face of the model Lola Nicon like a rock star, worn with tweed suits trimmed with wide braids, and pointed silver Mary-Janes. A look that recalls as much the modernity of the sixties as that of punk..."
For those devoted to Chanel for the accessories, Viard as usual gives variety — from charm-laden belt bags, to fringed shoulder bags, and metallic crossbodies, sticking mainly to the monochromatic palette of the day. In addition to the aforementioned white boots (another nod to the ‘60s), there were two-tone lace-up brogues, metallic Mary Janes, and black patent leather boots — with nary a soft sandal in sight. Even the collection’s wide-leg pants and floaty caftans were paired with fancier footwear. Clearly, this is a collection for after sunset.