Chanel Couture’s Romantic Spring Awakening

chanel couture spring 2021

Courtesy of Chanel / Anton Corbijn

During heavy times, a touch of lightness can be a temporary balm. That’s what Chanel’s spring-summer couture provided. A brief respite, the storied fashion house debuted its newest collection to a near-empty audience, a nod to the times and the hope of returning to a packed house. “I love big family reunions when the generations all come together. It’s so warm. There’s this spirit at Chanel today,” said Creative Director Virginie Viard in the brand’s press release. “Chanel is also like a family.”

The idea of celebration was key, as the show opened with a rendition of the song “Be My Baby” playing in the background. Beneath arches of flowers, a cascade of models appear in black-and-white videos, walking down the curving staircase of Chanel’s familiar venue at the Grand Palais in Paris. “I wanted to bring the models together for family photos, like those you can see in photo albums,” Viard also said.

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The room was filled with empty chairs, save for a few occupied by Chanel brand ambassadors Marion Cottilard, Vanessa Paradis and her daughter Lily-Rose Depp, and Penelope Cruz, who watched intently. Soon the dreamy music transitioned to synth-pop, and the clothes appeared in technicolor. It’s a playful collection, filled with soft tweed sets, party dresses adorned with tulle bustles, and a couture plea for the return of flower crowns. Silk button downs were smartly paired with oversized ball skirts—an easy-to-digest evening wear look appropriate for the times. The collection also plays to a soft color palette vaguely reminiscent of Bridgerton (or more likely, Bridgerton wishes it was Chanel couture).


Intimate portraits taken by Anton Corbijn

Courtesy of Chanel / Anton Corbijn


The star of the show.

Courtesy of Chanel / Anton Corbijn


The closing look.

Courtesy of Chanel / Anton Corbijn

The wearable collection is also pleasingly accessible. Despite the delicate, hand-embroidered details associated with haute couture, you can imagine how swiftly this collection could translate to real women’s lives—the ones who wear couture, of course — and that was Viard’s intention. “I’m always thinking about what women would like to have in their wardrobe today,” she concluded.

At the end of each model’s turn around the hall, they took a seat to watch the finale. In true couture fashion, it closed with a white wedding dress. On horseback. (A trend of the season, apparently.) Delicately sitting side saddle, the model slips down and saunters through the room in a high-neck Victorian coat masquerading as a bridal gown—The Princess Bride immediately comes to mind—its train picking up petals with every step. Dashing white horses, rose petals, twinkling string lights, and The Ronettes? That’s true romance.

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