‘Romanticism but without any flourishes. Emotions but without any frills,’ as so it goes with Virginie Viard; Creative Director at CHANEL, following the storied maison’s latest FW20/21 runway show. If anything, this quote proves how powerful a single statement can sometimes be, as it encapsulates and explains the collection in its entirety — boldness with considered restraint, visually-arresting without unnecessary distractions.
Presented within the Grand Palais, as is tradition at CHANEL, the expansive white space punctuated with topographical-like set decor is a subtle nod to the timeless unpretentiousness of CHANEL fashion, leaving one feeling suspended by time as the models cascade along. There’s much to put into words for all things that have left us enticed over, but like sparkles to magpies, we will be focusing on the many baubles and embellishments that have left us wanting more this time around.
True followers will probably already know the longstanding collaboration between CHANEL and Maison Gripoix; the renowned establishment that created costume jewellery favourites from glass for duchesses and princesses across Europe and beyond in a time gone by. And needless to say, for Mademoiselle Coco Chanel herself, when Byzantine cuffs and jewellery layering became her style du jour when wearing all that glitters, precious or otherwise. Considered by informed collectors and vintage lovers as actual treasure, Gripoix costume jewellery pieces are notable for their refined craftsmanship and is so valued for the painstaking processes (and apparently hundreds of hours) required to produce them.
This season, while the overarching theme revolves around equestrian culture along with pared-back styling for the countless wearable pieces that enable ease in movement, it’s the accessories that truly made the biggest statement. Under camera flashes, it’s the earrings, necklaces, bracelets, belts, rings, brooches on bags, and press studs on jodhpurs riding trousers that shone the brightest and drove the mechanisms of the epic romance that set the scene.
Most remarkable were strands upon strands of pearls, glass cabochons in all shades of pretty, and diamanté, enough to light up any room and fit for princesses and today’s modern women. Every unmissable piece seemingly its own visual statement contrasting against the outlines of soft shoulders and sleeves, an unapologetic display of jewellery emphasising one’s belief (with bejewelled crosses) in everything housing the mythos of CHANEL and the freedom (so declared by Virginie herself at a runway fitting) that comes with liberation.
It all made sense decades ago in the film that also inspired the collection — Les Biches by Charbol, that represented women ‘who are as feminine as they are amazons,’ as it does in modern times today, tomorrow, and in the long haul.