The French Impressionists shared a single obsession: colour. More specifically, they were interested in capturing how light and colour changed the landscapes. Their rejection of black in favour of colours was exceedingly modern in the early 19th century. And for Chanel’s Fall/Winter 2021/22 haute couture collection, creative director Virginie Viard drew inspiration from these impressionist artists, specifically Berthe Morisot and the Cubist Marie Laurencin.
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As the models strolled down the runway, soft, vivid tones of pinks, blues, purples and reds stood out vibrantly against the pale stone stairs of the Palais Galliera, where the exhibition dedicated to Gabrielle Chanel has been set since May this year. The scene brought to mind Claude Monet’s ‘The Magpie’, which depicted a snowscape painted not in white, but in every colour in his palette. There were full A-lined skirts in multicoloured tweed, resembling the brushstrokes of an impressionist painting, and jackets embroidered in a dizzying arrangement of sequins that formed fields of flowers.
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The collection was a mix of the masculine and feminine. Silhouettes that were boxy with exaggerated shoulders juxtaposed with delicate broderie anglaise bustiers and skirts embroidered delicately in water lily motif, something Gabrielle Chanel herself was known to do; it has also become a signature of Viard’s at the House of Chanel.
This was a collection intended to bring joy and warmth. American Actress Margaret Qualley, who also appeared in the collection film by director Sofia Coppola, closed the show in a wedding dress, her smile beaming from behind a veil decorated playfully with confetti-like applique. In the finale, as Viard joined the models at the steps of the museum, pastel pink rose petals descended over the show space, as if we had just witnessed a joyous spring wedding in the middle of winter.