Pictures by Chanel
Couture Spring Summer 2021
…AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Chanel Invites Us to a Couture Country Wedding
Couture season is beloved by all fashion followers for the fanfare, the art, the magic, and of course, the ensembles; yet as we roll into 2021 and Covid-19 is ceaselessly rearing its head and forcing restrictions around the world, designers are still forced to adapt to their new ways of business, as well as the current needs of their customers. At the Grand Palais in Paris, where the House of Chanel presents its shows, a typical season will see hundreds of guests seated in awe of gigantic set pieces and a seemingly unending parade of clothed models. This season, however, Creative Director Virginie Viard knew that her couture season was going to be an intimate affair. With the world in turmoil, Viard recognized the need for something warm and cheerful to serve as her inspiration, which transpired into an impossibly chic provincial wedding, and a collection encompassing each wedding guest’s tastes; from a young teen at her first celebration to gender-bending suits and vests, to prim mother of the bride tweeds, and of course, the pivotal bride herself, who traditionally closes the Chanel Couture show, no matter the theme.
An intimate affair calls for an exclusive guest list, which was comprised of Chanel ambassadors and family friends such as Penélope Cruz, Vanessa Paradis and her daughter Lily-Rose Depp, Marion Cotillard, and Charlotte Casiraghi among others, all distantly seated upon gilded chairs set atop a circular wood-planked platform framing the petal-strewn aisle. Green arches were decorated with frothy leaves, winding branches, and vibrant flowers, forming walkways lit by single-strand decorative lights, while the daylight from outside poured through the massive glass ceiling, all setting the stage for the perfect countryside wedding.
Viard reversed the traditional show order, sending the entire group of models out first as “wedding guests”. They cascaded down the famed stairway as a group and descended upon the celebration below with smiles on their faces, exchanging glances with each other, excited to be attending the festivities. After one go-around en masse, they reordered and began the traditional single file runway.
The first look was an exquisitely embroidered top and skirt, made so delicately it resembled lace; the top in pristine white, and the floor-grazing skirt in red, comprised of tiny crimson flowers which allowed a slight peek at the skin beneath, with a dramatic front slit that reached the upper thigh. From there we were shown gamine suits and separates made of traditional Chanel tweed in varying shades of soft Spring pastels, with a stand-alone black dress that diversified the age range of the collection immediately. While the tweed separates and flower crowns may have been well suited for older ladies, along comes a black, sequined mini dress over white fishnets, flanked by a plume of embellished black tulle extending from the lower back, creating a dramatic high-low look, worn by a model wearing black sunglasses. As far as wedding guests go, there is one in every bunch.
The collection continued in a perfectly prim and pretty fashion with feminine pink ruffles and jackets button to the throat, until once again Viard surprises us with an all-white, slightly sheer dress. The top buttoned up prettily, flowing into a voluminously structured skirt that falls just atop the knee, the model resting her hands in sheer front pockets. A simple enough looking dress, yet elevated by tantalizing details.
The collection commenced with a series of fluffy tulle dresses and skirts with various degrees of sheer accents that would surely set village tongues wagging, until all the models had completed their walk and took a seat among the invited guests to await the arrival of The Bride, who rode in side-saddle on a white horse. She wore a stunning ecru satin crêpe gown with long sleeves, embroidered with rhinestone and pearl butterflies and a line of pearl buttons stretching from the nape of the neck to the center thigh, where it was met by a subtle slit in the gown, flanked by large pleats of fabric. An embellished veil extended out from behind her as she made her way around the wedding ceremony and disappeared into the white tent beyond, where we can only assume she met her groom and lived happily ever after.
Despite this being a season more focused on intimacy, and perhaps a more ready-to-wear appropriate selection, Viard continues to impress with her delicate feminism and attention to detail. This couture season requires garments more suited to small gatherings and cozy get-togethers, as opposed to red carpets and grand ballrooms, much to our continued dismay, and Viard delivered a collection perfectly aligned with those needs. Wedding season has slowed, but not stopped altogether, because of Covid. Most brides have simply had to whittle down their guest lists to the bare minimum, opting for spacious outdoor events instead of traditional seated ceremonies and dinners. For those unwilling to wait, Chanel is poised and ready to dress every lucky guest on the list.
Written by Elizabeth Kramsky