Virginie Viard had a lighthearted celebration in store for guests of Chanel’s Fall/Winter 2021 Couture Show. The creative director says in the show notes, “because I love seeing colour in the greyness of winter, I really wanted a particularly colourful collection that was very embroidered, something warm.” Indeed it was a collection worthy of a return to dressing up. Viard is often one to look to founder Gabrielle Chanel as a source of inspiration and this time it was the discovery of photographs of Chanel wearing monochromatic “1880s-style dresses” that served as the starting point.
Soft colors and rich painterly detail — abstracted flowers, floating feathers, and textured bouclé — appeared throughout the collection. And the romantic bent of the clothes presented offered an optimistic take on fashion to come. As celebrity onlookers like Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sofia Coppola returned to the front row, models walked through Paris’ Palais Galliera fashion museum, which also happens to be hosting an exhibit on Gabrielle Chanel at the moment.
The long black and white dresses paired with wide-brim hats are the most direct nod to the images discovered by Viard, but other looks inspired by artists of the same era — including Berthe Morisot and Édouard Manet — offered a lighter, more intimate portrait of the Chanel woman, such as a set of sheer slip dresses in bright colors cinched with a bow at the waist. The collection also included a number of unfussy suits, both with trousers and skirts. While the May cruise collection had a decidedly punk bent, the details and luxurious nature of the couture collection lends itself to this more polished and pretty aesthetic (though the crop tops and open jackets nod to a sexier modern dresser).
It’s also worth noting the triumphant dominance of the fashion houses’ signature cap-toe heel as the accessory du jour. Though other add-ons were limited — a few oversized hair bows, aforementioned hats, and 2 silver shimmery scarves, it was the ankle strap heels that will get the brands’ loyal followers excited to shop again.
Below, see more from the collection including the signature final look in any Haute Couture collection — a wedding dress. This time, with a coordinated sequin veil.