Courtesy of Chanel / Inez & Vinoodh
We’ll be the first to admit there are things we don’t miss about fashion week: the rigid, never-ending itinerary; midnight deadlines; frantically searching for a bathroom between shows; the guilt associated with being tired, annoyed and overworked while being part of such a beautiful industry. But one thing we do miss is the fanfare of the Chanel runway. A highlight of every season, the French fashion house knows how to put on a show. While the opulence of a catwalk now feels cloyingly amiss in times of crisis and isolation, there’s magic in those memories, like being a kid at a carnival (or an adult at Chanel’s 2008 show, complete with a merry-go-round). For now, we’ve lost the rocket ship displays, indoor beaches, and Gigi Hadid strong-arming runway crashers, but there’s still much to be said about Chanel’s fall-winter collection.
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Virtual shows, at the very least, offer more contextualized storytelling and intimacy than a runway ever could. For creative director Virginie Viard, it allowed her the chance to explore the world of Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel’s heyday. “I imagined the models doing a show for themselves, going from room to room, crossing each other in staircases, piling their coats up in the cloakroom and going up to the next floor to get changed,” she said in the collection notes. “I thought of the shows that Karl would tell me about, back in the day, a long time ago, when the models would dress themselves and do their own make-up,”
The clothes of Chanel have always been reliably strong, but without the opulent backdrop, you can focus on the details. For winter, it’s a mashup of moody tweeds, après ski salopettes layered over delicate lace tops, and metallic party dresses dressed down with shaggy boots but accessorized with costumed garter belts. They invite you to your next wintry vacation in the French alps, because what is Chanel if not a far-flung fantasy? Just slightly more wearable than collections past.
And some things don’t change at all, like Chanel’s buzzy front row. This time, in portrait mode, Jenny of Blackpink, model Blesnya Minher, and Belgian singer Angele were all in attendance, shot by Inez & Vinoodh.
As the world gets vaccinated and we take one step closer to a return to real life, we’re starting to sense fashion’s lifeblood returning. For now, the quiet strength of Chanel’s fall-winter collection is reminiscent of that fuzzy feeling, and we’re finally allowing ourselves to get excited for next season. It will be spring, after all.
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