With all the back and forth on wedding regulations, the past 16 months have not been easy for any would-be brides. Even those with plans to wear couture down the aisle have been beset by enforced cancellations, restrictions on numbers and smaller last-minute party plans.
Today, at the Chanel Haute Couture AW21 in Paris, creative director Virginie Viard presented a Chanel couture bridal look (there’s one every season) that reflected the times.
A supremely elegant puff-shouldered and long-sleeved A-line duchesse satin affair, the dress would look equally at home in a grand cathedral as it would a village church, and thanks to its ultra-understated design would be easily customisable, should a client fancy flashing a little wrist or ankle for a civil service. Even the short veil, pillbox hat and pared-back posy with which it was styled felt very registry office-appropriate.
The rest of the collection, presented in the pale grey courtyard of Paris’ Palais Galleria, brimmed with colourful boucle tweed and fun feathered details, in what felt like a fittingly jubilant first in-person runway show since the pandemic began.
“I really wanted a particularly colourful collection that was very embroidered, something warm,” said Viard, who was inspired by the painterly strokes and warm palettes of the French impressionists, and particularly the works of Berthe Morisot, Marie Laurencin and Édouard Manet. “I love seeing colour in the greyness of winter.”
Dresses embroidered with water lilies sat alongside a pink and mauve sequinned jacket that nodded to Monet’s waterlilies. Blouses with little red, blue and yellow daisies came tucked into low-waisted skirts in multicolour striped tweed, while elsewhere a jacket in black feathered tweed crafted was embellished with red and pink flowers. “I was also thinking about English gardens,” said Viard. “I like to mix a touch of England with a very French style. It’s like blending the masculine and the feminine, which is what I’ve done with this collection too. That twist is very much a part of who I am.”
The show, which was attended by Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones, director Sofia Coppola and Conde Naste supremo Anna Wintour, took place in the same venue in which there is currently an exhibition, Gabrielle Chanel: Manifeste de Mode, devoted to the greatest works of brand founder Coco Chanel (and celebrating Chanel’s collaboration on the refurbishment of the museum).
For some designers, knowing that over 300 of Mademoiselle Chanel’s best designs sat just metres away might be intimidating, but Viard, who’s been with the brand for over two decades, clearly knows her customer. Not least the post-Covid Chanel bride.
Click through the gallery above to see all the looks.