The Chanel crusise 2021 collection was originally intended to be shown on Capri, the mythically beautiful Italian island a ferry ride from Naples. It remains, however, a place that Chanel’s creative director Virginie Vard still has yet to visit. Instead, as Viard explained from her desk in the Chanel atelier on the Rue Cambon, where I joined her for a ,,virtual accessorization’ (the styling ritual just before the full looks are documented), she traveled there in her mind to create the collection that she calls Balade en Mediterranee (A Mediterranean Junt). Meanwhile, photographer Karim Sadli, working with Viard’s sometime-muse, the uber cool model Mica Arganaraz, created the illusion of a Caprese sunset in Chanel’s Paris photo studio.
Viard spend lockdon in her French country house, a time, as she says, for „rest and family time’, that was no holiday. In addition to preparing this resort collection (which she had begun before lockdown), Viard was also working on a capsule haute couture offering, which will likewise be presented virtually. Viard returned to Paris and the Chanel studio on May 4, when the city partially reopened, but in the depth of the countryside she was thinking and dreaming, as she told to reporters, about ‘summer in Capri-or the South of France’, and the kind of destination wardrobe of ‘easy clothes’ that a sophisticated but also cool girl would want to travel with. Her proposal includes swimsuits to wear as bodies under cardigan jackets, wide-legged pants, or handkerchief-hemmed skirts, and no-nonsense iterations of the classic Chanel suit or sharienne jackts in cotton tweed.
‘There are no evening dresses, no heavy things’, says Viard, who proposes instead some day-into-night options including those bathing suits printed with scattered trompe l’oeil Chanel costume jewels and worn with skinny cardigan jackets and wide pants in a fine – guage knit (woven with a camellia pattern jacquard), or bandeau tops embroidered by Lesage with flowering branches of bougainvillea – the emblematic Mediterranean summer flower – that that can be worn under suits or veiled under sheer black chiffon blouses. Elegant little wisps of dresses in silver lame, bordered in the signature house braid in the same fabric are as dressy as it gets.
The understated clothes all project the message of continuity and quiet evolution that is becoming Viard’s vision for the brand, and relates so closely to the philosophy of Gabrielle ‘Coco’, Chanel herself, who quietly honed her own signature clothes from season to season, and ultimately across the decades, appealing to generations of customers in the process.
Viard even pulled some staple pieces and accessories that are currently available in store but that haven’t yet been shown in campaigns – among them some denim jeans and a very stylish woven wicker beach basket purse. ‘I love it’, reasoned Viard, ‘why would we have to do another one?’.
The idea, noted Viard, was similar to her own approach to holiday packing, when she mixes in cherished favorites with exciting new acquisitions.
There was also a new approach – a response to the times, perhaps, but also a more sustainable way for a luxury brand to move forward. With supply chains compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic, the collection, as Viard explained, was made using ‘all the fabrics we had in stock – all the buttons, all the galons (braids) – we had a shop in the studio, it was so cute!