Sitting in the cosy confines of my bed, for the first time today I watched a Chanel Fashion Show. The ‘Le Château des Dames’ 2020/21 Métiers d’art Show to be precise.
It’s an annual show they do as a tribute to the small artisans and specialist workshops Chanel started to buy since 1984 – as a way to preserve the fine craftsmanship of French luxury.
Better still, to me and to you known as the Pre-Fall 2020/21 fashion show.
In better times, only a handful of lucky guests are usually invited to attend this show. This time around, there was just one guest in attendance: Kristen Stewart – Chanel’s brand ambassador and occasional muse. For better or worse, I can’t complain, because if things were normal, this show would never have been broadcasted, and I would never have been able to watch it at such a length. Not to mention, over and over again.
Sure, I initially felt regret over the fact that I never got to watch a Chanel fashion show during Karl Lagerfeld’s era. But as soon as I started watching, the feeling of regret transformed into something better – Karl’s Chanel or not – I was fortunate to watch it in Virginie Viard’s reign.
Because from what I saw, felt and experienced – this show wasn’t just exquisite – it was layered. And with each viewing – a total of three – I felt like I was uncovering a new meaning from under each every one of those finely crafted layers.
In the first viewing itself though, three things were abundantly clear:
First: Staged at the Château de Chenonceau – home of Catherine de Medici – the famous Italian Noblewoman and Queen of Consorts of France – its location wasn’t just significant as a backdrop, rather its long history with the Renaissance era and the long line of powerful women who occupied it – inspired the collection.
Second: Though it had a fantasy fairy-tale like feel, I couldn’t deny that there was an underlining darker theme about it.
Third: Besides being unmistakably and undoubtedly the most divine fashion show I’ve ever seen in my entire life, it taught me what fashion is truly about.
In my second viewing, finer details came to light. Like the clothes themselves. They were sublime in their own creation. I noticed how rich fabrics like tweed and organza in darker hues were accentuated with subtle but intricate detailing in gold and silver. Which is not just reminiscent of Chanel’s classic style, but also that of renaissance art in general. But more specifically Catherine’s personal style.
Moreover, though the collection was simple in every way, each and every one of those clothes exuded a sense of grandness. One that is typically associated with something that is deeply rooted in history.
On my third viewing – I started to feel like the whole collection isn’t just inspired by Catherine’s turbulent reign, rather it posed as an allegory of it. Because even though, it was from this very castle that she nurtured and collected renaissance art; it was also from within its very walls – under her reign – that France saw some its darkest periods.
It’s no secret that she believed in dark magic – as symbolized through dark hooded eyes, flowing mane of hair and occasional gnome’s hat as seen throughout collection – but she also led France through a lot of religious conflict. Not to mention mass bloodshed due to multiple massacres. I wouldn’t say it was directly depicted through the clothes – but there was something about the collection that led me to believe it was meant to be conveyed.
But then again, the more I read into it, the more nuanced and layered I feel it is. Not just the clothes – but art in general.
But that’s the beauty about art isn’t it? It never means any one thing for everyone. We all see it, consume it and interpret it in different ways. And fashion being an extension of art – doesn’t just end by throwing a bunch of exquisitely crafted clothes on your back – sometimes its real meaning extends to so much more. And watching this wonderful Chanel ‘Le Château des Dames’ 2020/21 Métiers d’art Show taught me this.
But that’s just my opinion from what I learned watching my first ever Chanel fashion show. If you’re interested in watching the Chanel fashion show – which I highly suggest you should – you can find it on Chanel’s YouTube channel or their website.