For her graphic Chanel Cruise 2021 collection, Virginie Viard sought inspiration in Provence, more exactly Les Baux-de-Provence, the picturesque hilltop village in the south of France, is known for its winding streets, sweeping vistas and the Carrières de Lumières, a series of chalky, cave-like rooms.
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These vast chambers have recently been used to present resonant sound and light shows evoking the world of various artists including Vincent van Gogh. It served also as the backdrop for the 1960 film “Testament of Orpheus”, directed by poet and playwright Jean Cocteau, who was a friend of founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and by extension, part of the house’s lore.
The reference was quite obvious to creative director Virginie Viard. “Because Gabrielle Chanel was close to Cocteau, and I love the film Testament of Orpheus”, Viard explained. “In particular this magnificent scene: a man with a black horse’s head descends into the Carrières de Lumières, his silhouette cut out against the very white walls”.
“‘Testament of Orpheus’ blew me away. It’s full of amazing actors. It’s very simple – that’s what gets to me. It’s so on point, the dialogue is hilarious. It’s marvelous”, she continued about the film, which features Pablo Picasso, Yul Brynner and Cocteau himself in the main role.
Inspired so by Jean Cocteau who shared with Coco Chanel a fascination with beasts, mythological or otherwise: griffins and centaurs for him; lions, deer and sphinxes for her. But still, Viard was careful to distance herself from the poet’s obsession with mythology. Instead, she defaulted to her signature rock chic aesthetic, which took on a punky edge this season, with button-fettered denim jackets, tweed suit fronts scattered with gold pins, fringed leather skirts, open-knit sweaters and spiky jewelry, including a jeweled double-C piercing for the lower lip.
For the purist: inky velvet cocktail dresses topped with lacy mini capes channeling a dark romance and pristine white dresses with puffed sleeves embroidered with floral motifs were their solar cousins.
Meanwhile the graphic suits – with a new jacket silhouette featuring a bloused body and fitted peplum – were drawn with the definite lines of Cocteau’s ink brush and pen drawings while Picasso’s signature doves were woven into a high-collared lace dress, and loosely stitched on distressed sweaters.
Standouts included a couple of dresses made from woven strips of chiffon in delicate watercolor shades – one of four eco-friendly tweeds featured in the collection, a third of which was in eco-responsible fabrics.
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