PARIS — Few Chanel customers have probably ever ventured to the industrial fringe of the 19th arrondissement in northeastern Paris. But on December 7, they were blinking in the icy December fog at Place Skanderberg, just off the Périphérique ring road, in anticipation of the brand’s annual Métiers d’Art show.
Delivered by a fleet of Mercedes, dressed in fine boucle and draped with pearls, many wore necklaces from which small golden scissors dangled. They had come with the invitation: part a nod to founder Gabrielle Chanel’s habit of wearing scissors on a ribbon around her neck, part a peace offering for customers who grumbled that they had to travel 30 minutes from central Paris. .
The reason: Le19M, the show’s location and new home to the 11 specialty couture studios Chanel began acquiring in 1985. An imposing triangular building of approximately 275,000 square meters designed by French architect Rudy Ricciotti, Le19M is filled with gold, feathers, sequins, rhinestones, silk, cashmere, leather and 600 artisans, spinning raw materials into magic, who all on the catwalk were showcased.
First, however, there was a tour of the workshops, led by, among others, Blanca Li, the Spanish choreographer. ‘We wouldn’t have the métiers without amour,’ remarked Mrs. Li, introducing herself to Maison Lesage, the embroidery specialist, as she put on her white patent heels.
Later, Inès de La Fressange, the former face of Chanel, appeared on-brand in a black bouclé Chanel jacket with gold chain trim on the pockets and a fashionable 15 minutes behind schedule.
Covid-19 protocols (two shows limited to 300 people each; guests asking to have a PCR or antigen test, wear masks and prove their vaccination status within 24 hours of the show) weren’t the only potential downer on the show . There was also the recent advent calendar-related social media storm.
Still, Vanessa Paradis was there to overtake Sofia Coppola. Singer Sébastien Tellier spoke with the up-and-coming French-Romanian actor Anamaria Vartolomei. And Pharrell Williams talked to Charlotte Casiraghi.
With 2 degrees Celsius it was too cold for champagne. Instead, mugs of hot mint tea from Mariages Frère, the chic French tea company, were distributed as guests mingled in the tree-lined courtyard under outdoor heaters, while Virginie Viard, Chanel’s creative director, took a cigarette break with some of the artists before the show. models . Attacked by a tense producer, she replied: “Don’t stress! I am a pro.”
A low-key one. Gone were the 18th-century Salzburg palaces, the New York museums, the 15th-century Scottish castles, the late designer Karl Lagerfeld’s Métiers shows.
Instead, the show was held in a long glass-walled gallery with polished concrete floors and concrete benches overlooking the courtyard. Models poured in from the central courtyard, stopping at the automatic glass doors before walking down the catwalk.
The drama came thanks to the decorated, loaded 80s style: no button without jewels, no waist without a belt with Chanel logo, no ear without a chandelier, no neck without ropes of necklaces dripping with pearls, Byzantine pendants and Coco-related charms. .
House signature bouclé jackets were relaxed in fit, cut long to graze either the knee or ankle. A black tweed bomber jacket with ribbed cuffs was embroidered with the Chanel logo in a graffiti-style font, selected from tiny pearls and vibrant, rainbow-colored rhinestones. A jacket partially obscured by a giant fuzzy vest appeared to be made of metal shards of glass, until you took a closer look and realized it was embroidered with graphic sprays of sequins. Oh, and there was light blue acid-washed jeans with an elasticated waist and a little flounce at the hem.
Cardigans were the star of the show, made slouchy and paired with densely worked, sequin-encrusted mini dresses and tweed dress suits. Chanel’s logo was everywhere: hand-stitched on knitwear, engraved on multi-strand necklaces, dangling from chain straps, traced with diamonds and draped over cuffs, and embossed on pearl-embellished Mary Janes.
The looks got lighter towards the end, in the form of a sheer black tulle skirt studded with feathers and pearls and paired with a sleek black cardigan, and a languid dress with a black and white bouclé top stepped up with just a touch of crystals in the waist and cuffs. That was around the time platinum-haired Korean-American model Soo Joo traded the runway for a concrete platform to better serenade audiences than Ether, her musical alter ego.
Dinner was planned for the evening at the Montparnasse brasserie La Coupole, once a favorite of Man Ray and Josephine Baker, but there was to be no after-party. France closed all nightclubs for four weeks this week in response to the new Omicron variant. With hibernation on the map, couture-level cardigans suddenly seemed a lot more out of place.