Things are getting intimate again. Chanel has long staged its shows in Paris’ epic Grand Palais — a sweeping exhibition hall that has housed icebergs, rockets, and carousels for the famous fashion house. But, a change of scenery can be a good thing (especially since the venue is closed for construction) — and this season, creative director Virginie Viard brought Chanel’s Fall/Winter 2021 runway collection to the hallways of Castel, a legendary nightclub on Rue Princesse once frequented by Serge Gainsbourg and Salvador Dalí. It was a setting that fit the collection: a layered, playful mix inspired by both Aprés ski and the je ne se quois of French style through the last 50 years of fashion.
“I like Castel so much for its many salons,” Viard explains in the show notes. “The spiral staircase, its bar, the journey through this venue, its little house style, where the models can get changed, dressed and undressed, do their make-up together, and have fun like a girls night in. It’s very sensual.” Viard’s desire for a more relaxed, intimate show — one with models cozied together doing their own makeup and getting dressed together — reflects a larger cultural craving for a return to the simple interactions that have been lost over the last year. To sit together and catch up sitting at a bar, visiting an old friend after a time away, getting ready together at home before a big night out on the town.
And Viard’s clothes this season mirror that desire for both celebration and intimacy. There are flashes of metallic, pops of color, sheer skirting, and lush texture, but this isn’t a collection of loud statement pieces. Where Karl Lagerfeld built his legacy at Chanel around splendor and statement, Viard’s time at the helm has been one more attuned to detail — about the feelings surrounding the events that customers are getting dressed up for, and what women really want to wear.
The collection is mostly made of separates — relaxes suits and sweater sets, though the inclusion of a number of minidresses cements the collection’s nod to nights out dancing. Long layered coats and fluffy shearling boots offer a blanketing of protection. “I love contrasts, so for the more voluminous winter pieces, I wanted a small space. I don’t know if this is because of the times we live in, but I wanted something warm, lively,” Viard continues. There was plenty of practical fashion to be had, from ski jumpsuits, to matching knits, but as is the Viard way, relaxed mixing and the addition of layered jewelry and plenty of belts gives a very personal feeling to the collection — as if each model had simply plucked what they liked off the rack and pulled it together in their own distinctive way. She adds, “today some of these silhouettes make me think of Stella Tennant’s allure, the way she wore certain pieces, it was so Chanel.”
For those who have their eye specifically on Chanel’s accessories, this season’s bags were unsurprisingly geared towards the desired night out — slung across the body or carried in hand. There were also a number of cases on long necklaces, serving as a two-in-one accessory that won’t get lost on the dance floor. In addition to the furry snow boots, the collection also included two-tone logo boots that are sure to be the season’s It item, along with embellished sandals and pumps.
When the time finally comes for a chance to hit the town with your core group of friends, your uniform is surely sorted.