Spring 2021 Ready to Wear
Pictures by Chanel
Chanel Relives the Loud Decade With a Touch of Commercial Class
The iconic Grand Palais in Paris was transformed into the Hollywood Hills for Chanel’s Spring 2021 live runway show. White, oversized letters spelled out CHANEL along the runway, mimicking the Hollywood sign in LA. House Creative Director Virginie Viard was inspired by the lives of actresses for this collection, from the pomp of the red carpet to the watchful paparazzi lens focused on their every day lives, she wanted to create a season that can span the needs of today’s celebrity client. Today, of course, being a little bit more casual, a little more modest with the lack of events and galas to attend, this was a younger, more pared-down Chanel.
The danger of Chanel is that season after season, many designs begin to blur. There will always be reworked tweed and a new cardigan. These are the stapes of Chanel, and ones that keep clients loyal, however, they are also the designs most in danger of getting lost in every new collection. Viard shaped up this season by adding shoulder pads and loosening the silhouette of the traditional tweed jacket, giving it a bit of 80s flare. Paired with a matching suit skirt with asymmetrical thigh slit or satin Bermuda shorts with ruched sides; while the standard Chanel cardigan was shown in soft pink with black piping on a crop top and an oversized dress.
This was a youthful, separates heavy collection with mix and match skirts, high waisted paper bag pants, and a variety of day jackets. A series of neon print clothing appeared with tops and dresses mimicking the glowing lights of the Las Vegas Strip, all in Chanel branding, of course. Aside from two more pink offerings, the remainder of the 70 piece collection was in black and white, heavy with lady-like suit separates and dressing up looks, including two of the strongest pieces of the show, a duo of plunging neck tunics over matching pants, appearing simplistic and elegant while appealing to a wide age range.
There were a few head-scratching moments this season that left us confused for the Chanel customer. A pair of fuzzy black pants transitioned at the knee to sheer chiffon; a cropped, sheer top was adorned haphazardly with white feathers that appeared messy and untailored, there were several pants whose length stopped right below the knee giving an unflattering silhouette, a skintight grey jumpsuit with a halter neckline and long sleeves looked very out of place amongst all the suit separates and flowing dresses, and finally, the show ended with three gorgeously draped long dresses in an unfortunate grey and white Chanel logo print. It was clear that branding and logos were a thoughtful aim for this collection, as they are the most commercial pieces next to accessories. Shirts were emblazoned with the number 5 in neon colors, a red sweater was dripping with the white letters of Chanel, likewise the sleeves of a sporty jacket. Accessories were micro-mini bags worn as belt adornments and jewelry, perhaps a season or two behind trend.
While there were definite standouts and beautiful pieces this season, the majority of Chanel’s Spring collection fell flat. Does the Chanel customer want Bermuda shorts and 80s references? It was a confusing mix of high/low casual that missed the mark on its Hollywood inspiration. Would any young starlet go on a Starbucks run in pink pants and a cropped chiffon cape? Perhaps we hold Chanel to a higher standard, we do not want a casual collection from the house that Coco built. Chanel evokes dreams of luxury and beauty, of classic French inspiration and aspirational fashion, so we are thrown off by a grey bodysuit and colored denim. Perhaps we are holding on too tightly to the era of Lagerfeld and need to embrace the new Chanel under Viard’s watch. We will go forth with hope for next season.
Written by Elizabeth Kramsky