Once upon a time, fashion brands presented larger-than-life shows, beckoning editors, influencers, and buyers to far-flung venues that are the stuff of fairy tales. The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that, with many luxury labels finding alternative ways to present their collections. Chanel’s artistic director, Virginie Viard, however, has kept the tradition alive, staging the annual Métiers d’Art collection, a showcase of the maison’s specialist workshops, at the Château de Chenonceau in France’s Loire Valley. The only difference for 2021 is that the brand had only one person in the audience: brand ambassador Kristen Stewart.
Related article: Chanel’s Open-Sky Laboratories Pay Homage To Nature
Sitting on a bench along a lengthy checkered hallway, Stewart eyed a parade of looks that perfectly reflected the lore surrounding the 16th-century castle. The expansive estate was the home of Catherine de’ Medici, the famed Italian noblewoman and queen consort of France. In many depictions created by Renaissance masters, the royal wore sumptuous velvet gowns with pearl embroideries and ornate neck ruffles, often in black and white. Viard reimagined these references with a Chanel twist.
Related article: Marion Cotillard Dazzles As The New Face of Chanel N°5
Black-and-white checkered patterns, for example, were seen on miniskirts paired with pastel-hued tights and Chanel’s signature bouclé jackets. Pearl-encrusted latticework was used on a fitted, tiered velvet frock and a leather motorcycle jacket. And the château’s silhouette was embroidered on the waists of a tea skirt and mullet dress. The accessories, too, played with velvet and pearls, and featured the brand’s interlocking C’s, which also happens to be de’ Medici’s monogram and a motif seen throughout the grounds.
With this Renaissance theme, Viard was able to highlight the incredible artistry of Chanel’s petits mains. She also reinforced the idea that fashion can still be a fantasy, a form of escape that, in these trying times, we could all use.
Related article: Review of Chanel Spring Summer 2021 Collection
This article first appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US.