When Chanel’s Artistic Director of Fashion Collections, Virginie Viard, showed the House’s Métiers d’Art collection, entitled Chanel Paris – 31 Rue Cambon, in Paris at the start of December last year, little did she know how world events would take such a dramatic turn just weeks later. The setting of the show, which drew inspiration from Mademoiselle Chanel’s famous baroque apartment, proved uncannily prescient in hindsight.
Greeted with a replica of the coromandels that decorate the walls of the apartment, guests walked into a Grand Palais that was sectioned off to emulate the flat’s different chambers—almost as a foreshadow of the events that will see people being homebound for the next few months. Cosy sofas, faux fireplaces, laden bookshelves, gilded mirrors, crystal balls and chic ashtrays (Coco Chanel was, after all, a superstitious chain-smoker) studded the venue, which laid the stage for Viard’s ingenious explorative ideas. When a row of chandeliers descended from the hall’s 11m-high glass ceiling and the first model walked down the recreated steps of the apartment’s iconic Art Deco mirrored staircase, one couldn’t help but feel that the spirit of Chanel was well and truly alive.
Throwing open the doors to the House, Viard directed the attention to Chanel’s different metiers, or speciality ateliers, by showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship that has made and built each Chanel collection to date. In the artistic director’s deft hands, this latest Métiers d’Art collection drew strong parallels between the artisanal quality of the designs and the richly decorated interiors of the Chanel apartment—which has remained unchanged since the passing of the designer in 1971.
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