If there was anything particularly disappointing about a woman crashing the last Chanel RTW show runway at the Grand Palais in Paris, it was that it was a woman who did the deed. At a time when women are rallying together to uplift and support their sisters, and considering that it was the first RTW show of Virginie Viard, the new artistic director of Chanel fashion collections, who worked as Karl Lagerfeld‘s right hand for three decades, the gig felt particularly mean. And so, for the occasion of Viard’s first Métiers d’Art show–a show that exists to put the spotlight on couture artisans–women of particular esteem came in droves and from around the world to stand by Viard and stand for the work that she now helms. Sofia Coppola, Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Vanessa Paradis, Lily-Rose Depp, Kristen Stewart, Isabelle Adjani, Yara Shahidi, Caroline de Maigret, and more were all spotted at the Chanel Métiers d’Art 2020 show last night at the Grand Palais. “She’s so talented, and considering all the years she’s worked with Karl, she is the bet person for the role,” nodded Cruz, speaking to Vogue Arabia.
Chanel held its very first Métiers d’Art show in in 2002. Before it was staged at iconic locations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Philharmonic in Hamburg, it was held at 31 rue Cambon in Paris, the heart and soul of the maison, also known as the headquarters of the Chanel couture salons and former apartment of its founder. While last night’s show was at the Grand Palais, it offered a nod to the house’s roots with a set co-designed by Sofia Coppola and imitating the interior of Coco’s apartment, complete with coromandel doors, cozy beige couches, crystal chandeliers, and lion figurines, but also the famous downward spiral staircase reflected with floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
This show is unique in that it offers an opportunity to venerate the many artisanal hands that come together at Chanel, and which make the Chanel Métiers d’Art collection clothing that is close to art. The show debuted with black jackets decorated with flashes of golden beads embroidered by the Maison Lesage. This tribute to tweed set the tone that the show would feature many of the maison‘s codes. Viard broke the strictness with a play on color, black and white hinting at women’s innate duality and accessorized with strings of pearls à la Coco. Next, a patina leather jacket in a rainbow of pastel metallics made a bold statement. Viard introduced colorways of blues and pinks that appeared plucked from the Northern Lights and splashed these on pencil skirts and cropped jackets. While the suits maintained their tailleur, dresses and skirts’ silhouettes started to loosen, feathers and ruffles adorning them for extra flounce.
One of the last chapters saw a sequin jumpsuit–Cruz’s favorite–decorated with a camelia at the neckline. It appeared like an apt substitute for a dress to head into the new decade. Old golds that mirrored the gild of Coco’s apartment took to the runway before making way for silks and pristine whites. The final look, a pencil skirt with pockets bien sur for the woman on the go and a timeless white jacket that would look just as striking over jeans.
Today, Chanel’s network of craftsmanship is vast. In fact in one year’s time, 11 Métiers d’art will move to a 25,500m2 building designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti in the 19th arrondissement on the edge of Paris. Named “19M”—19 for the neighborhood and M for mains (hands), mode (fashion), métiers (craftsmanship), maisons (houses), and manufactures (factories). 600 artisans from the likes of Lesage and Montex embroideries, hatter Maison Michel, and goldsmith Goosens, will work in this space that aims to meet the most competitive environmental labels. Meanwhile a 1200m2 agora will offer a platform for artisans and the public to come together to connect and see craft thrive.
The ethos, founded by Gabrielle Chanel in the 1950s, when she surrounded herself with the creatives of the time, thrives. Under the eye of Viard but also president of fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky, who sought to establish a network of raw material suppliers like leather, silk, and Calais lace, artisans, heritage, and innovation are elevated. As the models gathered on the staircase for the finale, Cruz noted, “It was impossible for me to not think of Lagerfeld. I remember being there with him for fittings, being by the stairs that would lead to his office.” Her familiar voice brightened as she continued, “When I saw all the girls there together and Virginie came out–she’s very shy and very humble and I love that about her, everything is about the work–I saw her getting very emotional. Chanel is like family for her.