The 2020/21 Chanel Métiers d’Art Collection has arrived, titled “Le Chateau de Dames,” or the Castle of Ladies. Métiers d’Art translates from French to “art professions.” The entire show serves as an homage to the artisans with which Chanel has collaborated since 1984 in order to revive the sense of French craftsmanship in fashion. Every year, fashion-lovers wait in excitement for the opus of the iconic fashion house’s master workings.
The show took place at the historic Chateau de Chenonceau, located in Chenonceaux, France, whose Gothic Architecture and enchanting interior immediately transport the viewer to a time of effortless wanderlust. While originally planning to invite more than 200 attendees to mark creative director Virginie Viard’s first show as head of the house outside of Paris, the guest list was cut down to a single person: actress and Chanel ambassador Kristen Stewart, who watched the models walk down the hallways of the historic building with admiration in her face.
Of the collection Viard said in a statement, “I like everything to be mixed up, all the different eras, between the Renaissance and romanticism.” This idea is obvious when looking at the outfits presented. Imagine the long and flowy princess dresses you wore in your youth, mixed with Chanel’s signature tweed blazer and skirt combo, but modernized into a more 21st Century look: remade with layers of black tulle, white silk, and golden chains. The sense of dignified playfulness with a Gothic edge runs through the veins of the show.
Some of the highlights of the collection are a black off-the-shoulder sweater top matched with black, gold-flecked pants, the iconic white tweed pantsuit reinvented into a bodysuit, with a black trench overcoat, and my personal favorite trinket: the black tulle choker with a red heart, overlaid with two interlocking Cs. In an ode to the building that houses this show, one of the most eye-catching pieces is the model of the Chateau immortalized into a waist belt, used on a white puffy-sleeved shirt and long black pleated skirt, complete with a Renaissance-style black princess hat.
Overall, the collection marks the sort of freedom in femininity, however one defines the term that Viard hoped to encapsulate, while still being made up of the very same fibers that Coco Chanel would have spent hours sewing together in her workroom. It may not be as haute couture or boundary-pushing as some would have liked, but I think that’s the beauty of Chanel: representing a traditional sense of beauty without being overly strict in its teachings, ebbing and flowing to fit the “modern” woman in all of her iterations.