Tuesday 26th January

| BY Claudia Croft

Chanel: Couture SS21

“I love big family reunions, when the generations all come together. It’s so warm. There’s this spirit at Chanel today. Because Chanel is also like a family,” says Virginie Viard. When her SS21 Couture show couldn’t happen as planned, due to Covid restrictions, she improvised with a Chanel wedding party, filmed by Anton Corbijn and starring a multi-generational cast of Chanel faces.

“I wanted to bring the models together for family photos, like those you can see in photo albums,” said Viard. So her 38 models descended the stairs of an empty Grand Palais, dressed for the festivities. They passed under arches of flowers and walked a petal-strewn catwalk, whilst long-time Chanel faces, Vanessa Paradis, Marian Cotillard and Caroline de Maigret watched benevolently. Many of the looks borrowed their silhouettes from the label’s early years, when Chanel defined the jazz age. Viard conjured an atmosphere of joyful romance.

Flounce hem dresses, frothy tulle skirts, tiny bolero jackets and tango shoes were designed to be danced in. Some of the skirts were removable – to free the legs – and the chic tweed trouser options which are a hallmark of Viard’s Chanel (and most recently worn by JLo for the inauguration), were plentiful. When paired with a matching man’s waistcoat, they looked like Chanel suits remade for a new generation.

“I’m always thinking about what women would like to have in their wardrobe today,” said Viard who knows that modern women are not immune to the ravishing prettiness of her Couture. The candy coloured froth of her tulle ballerina skirts and the ingénue charm of a drop-waist, full-skirted party dress were the perfect antidote to the ugliness of the world. By the time the bride entered on a white horse, led by her female beau, this gorgeous Chanel fantasy was complete.

Photography by Anton Corbijn.