Monday, 22 February 2021

Paris: Chanel's Dreamy Spring Collection

Penelope Cruz strikes a pose at Chanel's couture headquarters at 31 rue Cambon in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Cover of Marion Cotillard and main photograph by Anton Corbijn


The newly redecorated haute couture salons at Chanel's historic rue Cambon building in Paris have just reopened. Anton Corbijn photographed actors Penélope Cruz and Marion Cotillard in the elegant rooms. The interior provided a perfect backdrop to Virginie Viard's Spring/Summer 2021 collection. Designed as an antidote to the pandemic, it captured a dreamy sense of freedom and summery evenings in the South of France, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Lily-Rose Depp photographed 
on the famous mirrored
stairway, by Anton Corbijn, 
inspired by Robert Doisneau
VIRGINIE Viard worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel's late, great creative director, for more than 30 years, before taking the reins in 2019. With each new season, Viard is brings her own aesthetic to the French fashion powerhouse. 

Her silhouettes are more relaxed than Lagerfeld's and her shows more personal than spectacular (think of his soaring Chanel rocket ship and Eiffel tower, built under the great dome of the Beaux-Arts Grand Palais). 

As this Paris couture season was virtual due to Covid-19 restrictions, and with so many people working from home, Viard's fluid, low-key ethos captured the fashion zeitgeist. As the pandemic has kept many apart, people are more appreciative of the time they spend with family and friends. This was the inspiration for Viard's Spring-Summer 2021 Haute Couture collection. She wanted to create the atmosphere of a summer country wedding. 

"I knew we couldn't organise a big show, that we would have to invent something else, so I came up with the idea of a small cortege that would come down the stairs of the Grand Palais and pass beneath arches of flowers," says Virginie Viard. "Like a family celebration, a wedding. I love big family reunions, when the generations all come together. It's so warm. This is the spirit at Chanel today, because we are also like a family." 

"I came up with the idea of a small cortege coming down the stairs of the Grand Palais and passing beneath arches of flowers, like a family celebration, a wedding."

The models descend the stairway 
at the Grand Palais like
a wedding cortege
The new collection also works hand-in-hand with the reopening of the haute couture salons at 31 rue Cambon in Paris. "I wanted to bring the models together for family photos, like those you can see in albums," Viard explains. 

Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Vanessa Paradis were photographed next to the famous mirrored staircase. Lily-Rose Depp (Paradis' daughter) and Cotillard were shot with multiple reflections like the famous image of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, taken on the same stairway in 1953 by Robert Doisneau. 

Virginie Viard asked Dutch photographer, director and graphic designer Anton Corbijn to shoot her wedding cortege in the Chanel salons and to take the pictures as if they were family portraits. Viard met Anton Corbijn when he photographed her for a Vogue interview last year. Corbijn also directed the film of the Chanel couture show at the Grand Palais and filmed teasers in the new haute couture ateliers, stylised as band posters. 

He has photographed, directed music videos or created album covers for many high-profile bands and musicians from U2, Depeche Mode, Nirvana, Coldplay and Joy Division to Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Elvis Costello, Simple Minds and Björk. For Chanel, he also created the double "C" monogram and camellia as a hand-painted dash and these were also used for the printed show invitation and on the cover of the photo album.

"I wanted to bring the models together for photos, like those you see collected in family albums."

The long, Twenties-inspired, ecru satin 
wedding gown, covered in 
hand-embroidered butterflies
Virginie Viard turned to images of the 1920s for inspiration to create this season's bridal gown. The bride was photographed on the curving, mirrored stair and filmed riding a horse out of a jaunty tent on to the runway (see at left and below). 

The long, slim dress is made of ecru satin crêpe with a train, embroidered by Lesage, with pearl butterflies and finished with a wing collar and shirt cuffs.  

Viard's vision of a lively and romantic summer evening was brought to life in the collection by the long, ruffled skirts and witty trouser suits with jackets inspired by men's waistcoats. These designs connected back Gabrielle Chanel’s use of menswear in her designs, that were radical in the early 20th century. 

This SS21 couture collection also included tiers of flounced crêpe georgette in pale pink and a bolero worn with two-tone Mary-Jane shoes with a double strap, like tango dancers wear. This season's Chanel booties were designed with wedge heels decorated with a golden, quilt-like grid. "I'm always thinking about what women would like to have in their wardrobe today," comments Viard.

A stand-out design was a long removable skirt in lace made of white daisies, worn open over a dress with an integrated cape. The Métiers d’Art were involved in all the collection's looks, including the Montex atelier's embroidered macramé dress in pearl-grey tulle and Lemarié's delicate feathers which embellished the organza flounces of a dress in black tweed. The opening look for the show with its lacey white top and red, swinging skirt and flower-embroidered cuffs set the celebratory tone of the collection (see in the gallery below). 

"I'm always thinking about what women would like to have in their wardrobe today."

Penelope Cruz was one of the handful of 
guests at the filmed runway show

With Paris in lockdown, the runway show at the Grand Palais was held without an audience except for Chanel's ambassadors, including Charlotte Casiraghi, Vanessa Paradis, Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Lily-Rose Depp. 

Empty gilt chairs were gathered in small, distanced groups along the circular runway covered with arches of flowers and strings of light bulbs. The few guests sat singly and well apart from each other as they watched the runway show for the video shoot. 

Virginie Viard's aim was to create the intimate atmosphere of a village celebration for the show, with the guests and models ~ who talked and smiled as they walked on the circular runway ~  becoming part of the wedding party. The arches covered in flowers, scattered rose petals and a white tent all added to the sense of a festive, country gathering.

The mixed masculine and feminine silhouettes included ball gowns worn with chiffon singlets and shirts. Business-like, well-cut vests were worn with full skirts and high-cut trousers. Satin shirts combined with cardigan jackets made these pieces looked easy and comfortable to wear, But the detail in their finish showed the haute couture touch. The beautiful embroidery and hand-made lace gave each garment a richness and detail missing from ready-to-wear clothes.

With Paris in lockdown, the runway show at the Grand Palais was held without an audience except for Chanel's fashion ambassadors.
 
The plush armchairs and sofas of
Jacques Grange's new 
redesign of the couture salons
The newly redesigned haute couture salons on the rue Cambon, completed at the same time as Viard's spring collection, were created by French decorator Jacques Grange. However, the rethinking of the interior predates Viard taking over as creative director  of Chanel. 

Karl Lagerfeld had already chosen Jacques Grange to redo the couture salons. He had been the interior designer for Lagerfeld's great rivals, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and once they passed away he felt he could finally use the decorator himself. 

Today, Viard says she wanted to create a sophisticated space with Grange but one that still resonated with Gabrielle Chanel's aesthetic. The decorator has given the rooms a classical palette with white walls and black-framed mirrors combined with grey silk carpets, tall mirrors and gilded furniture by Goossens. A cosy, more informal feeling is created by the plump and capacious white-upholstered armchairs and sofas, interspersed with ceramic consoles by Giuseppe Ducrot and resin and glass tables by Marina Karella. Rich, brocade-covered screens and doors separate spaces and add a note of exoticism. 

Viard wanted to create a sophisticated space with Grange but one that still resonated with Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel's aesthetic. 


A model in this season's wedding gown
stands on the fabled stair.
Gabrielle Chanel's fabled, winding staircase still leads clients up to the salons for fittings and viewings (see at right). Overall, Grange wanted to enhance the glamour, creating an evocative background for the haute couture collections. 

The decorator was able to peruse Chanel's photographic archive so he could maintain the connection to the past. The pictures were an important point of reference for the design and Grange brought back Chanel's mirrored walls and decorative screens as a nod to the storied history of the building.

Rue Cambon was literally where Grabrielle Chanel's fashion career began. Originally dating back to the 18th century, the street was named after a famous French revolutionary elected to the National Convention(his father was a fabric manufacturer). 

When Chanel was in her mid-twenties she began working as a milliner at No. 21 and by 1910 she was creating her first brand, Chanel Modes. Rue Cambon is in the centre of Paris, close to Place Vendôme and the rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré and was ~ and still is ~ a very fashionable part of the city. 

As her business expanded, Gabrielle Chanel needed larger premises and in 1918, she acquired the handsome, 18th century building at number 31. She came up with the concept of the modern boutique here in 1921, showing fashion accessories and selling her first perfume, the iconic N°5, that is still being worn today. The boutique was located on the ground floor, while the large reception room on the first floor was used to present collections and hold fittings for haute couture. 

Today, the layout is still the same with the mirrored stairway leading up to Gabrielle's stylish second-floor apartment. The third floor houses the studio where Karl Lagerfeld worked and where Virginie Viard works now. The ateliers are still on the top floor, under the rooftop, buzzing with the lace makers, pleaters, jewelers, fan-makers and embroiderers who bring Chanel's couture collections to life, just as they did in Gabrielle's time. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. 

See the highlights of the SS21 Chanel couture collection and watch the video of the show below

























Short film of the Chanel SS21 haute couture collection in Paris

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Monday, 25 January 2021

Paris Haute Couture: Schiaparelli's Gilded Youth

A golden face mask with diamond piercings and a metalized resin bust moulded to the body were part of the Surrealist surprises in Daniel Roseberry’s new SS21 collection for Schiaparelli in Paris
After designing Lady Gaga's evocative outfit for Joe Biden's presidential inauguration, Daniel Roseberry launched his new haute couture collection for Schiaparelli in Paris. Rippling, muscular forms and startling Surrealist jewellery are integral to the designs. Graphic, vivid and full of disruptive ideas about couture, this season is the best yet of the couturier's short tenure, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Daniel Roseberry's leather
cuirass with a six-pack
and matching tote 
shaped like a
muscular torso 
ARRIAN of Nicomedia, a great friend of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and a provincial governor, described golden metallic face masks, worn as display armour in mock battles and cavalry parades. The masks, moulded to the shape of the face, were attached to embossed helmets. 

The face helmet was a luxury object, encasing the head, and while it was brought out for parades to heighten morale, it is also thought to have been intended to be worn in battle. Hadrian even watched one of these tournaments for elite Roman legions at Lambaesis, in Africa, during the hot months of 128 AD. 

Schiaparelli's creative director, Daniel Roseberry, has created a golden mask with diamond-encrusted nose and lip piercings, worn with a sculptural cuirass ,as part of his new haute couture Spring/Summer 2021 collection for the Parisian fashion house. 

Like the rippling muscles depicted on the bronze armour of the ancient Greeks, Roseberry’s creations have a heroic nudity, following the contours of the body. More aesthetic than functional, the Greek cuirass with its stylized, muscular breastplate displayed well-defined abs and even nipples. They were designed to prepare the soldier and his enemy for an epic conflict. 

Daniel Roseberry obviously has strength and battle-hardened bodies on his mind this season, empowering women within the Surrealist aesthetic of Maison Schiaparelli. A leather bodice, showing a ripped physique (see above) is mirrored by a surreal tote bag that echoes the six-pack torso of the breastplate.

It was only last Wednesday that Daniel Roseberry's work was seen by millions as Lady Gaga appeared, clad in the designer's fitted navy bodice worn with a lauded golden dove of peace brooch and a red silk skirt, to sing the national anthem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol in Washington D.C. As Kamala Harris is the first female and South Asian vice president, Roseberry wanted to capture the zeitgeist of this historic moment and celebrate the power and strength of women.

It was only last Wednesday that Daniel Roseberry's work was seen by millions as Lady Gaga sang at the presidential inauguration, clad in his navy, red and gold creation

A shiny, black leather bustier
and satin Shocking Pink bow
worn with eye-shaped earrings
 
The inauguration was a defining moment for Roseberry and for the rejuvenated house of Schiaparelli. This latest haute couture collection is only his third, since taking the helm of the storied French fashion house in 2019. He has brought a new energy and dynamism to Schiaparelli. After a decade at the avant-garde American Thom Browne label, he is familiar with experimental fashion and not afraid to be outrageous. 

"I want to make an alternative couture house,'' says Roseberry. "Here, the fantasy isn’t princess dresses or polite garments; here, the fantasy is within. These are clothes that make you aware of the fact of your body, that make you think about how you move through the world. 

"Elsa Schiaparelli also made clothes that torqued the body, but her intentions were never macabre; instead, she encouraged a childlike, un-neurotic exploration of the human form. Hers were garments meant to celebrate the joy of peacocking, the joy of showing off."

The first look in the new collection is a gleaming black, hand-painted bustier that hugs the body, offset by an enormous, soft silken bow in Elsa Schiaparelli's Shocking Pink, her signature hue. Roseberry says the shape of the bustiers used in the new collection is based on the original salon mannequins that still flank the Schiaparelli atelier in the Place Vendome. Daniel Roseberry takes Elsa Schiaparelli's iconoclastic ideas and the artistic history of the fashion house and then reimagines them, creating his own vision of haute couture. 

"The word “couture” conjures in the popular imagination: delicate embroidery, fragile as lace; skirts made from yards of silk; dresses as inoffensively pretty as something from a fairy tale ~ a vision unchanged from couture’s pinnacle in the 1950s," he explains. "But who says this is what couture has to be? In this, my third collection for Schiaparelli, I wanted to challenge the idea of what couture is, and should be, by making clothes that respect the tradition of not only this Maison, but the artistry behind it, while at the same time exploding the cliches associated with the genre."

"I wanted to challenge the idea of what couture is, by making clothes that respect the tradition of not only this Maison but the artistry behind it."

Daniel Roseberry mixes 
graceful, voluminous sleeves
with a black column dress 
and boots finished with gold toes
Elsa Schiaparelli, the Roman aristocrat who established her fashion house in Paris in 1927, was a rare professional female designer who commanded both critical and commercial success in France and internationally. She was always experimenting not only with aesthetics but with revolutionary technologies, creating new textiles and methods of making clothes. 

She may have grown up in a family of Italian aristocrats and intellectuals, amid the luxury of the Corsini Palace in Rome, but she was dynamic and worked hard, presenting four new collections a year that melded art and fashion.

Not only was Elsa Schiaparelli the mother of modern sportswear, she designed the first women's power suit, one-piece bathers and experimented exhaustively with new silhouettes, textiles and jewellery.

There were also raincoats in rubberised wool and silk, jumpsuits with visible, colourful zips, wrap evening dresses, culottes (shocking at the time), reversible gowns and a collection of Surrealist hats (the origin of the term "mad cap").

Research into the development of new materials led to revolutionary fabrics such as the glassy, transparent rhodophane, a type of plastic she used for overcoats, and rayon crepe that was like a crinkled, permanent pleat. Hand-knit jumpers with trompe l’oeil motifs depicting bows were immediately in demand, particularly in the United States.  

Elsa Schiaparelli, the Roman aristocrat who established her fashion house in Paris in 1927, was a rare professional female designer who commanded both critical and commercial success 


Eye-shaped glasses and a bag finished 
with a nose latch are part of  
Schiaparelli's Surrealist ethos
Schiaparelli's fashion house had become so successful that by1929 she had established ateliers, salons and offices at 4, Rue de la Paix in Paris. Her first collections included swimsuits, beach pyjamas and knitwear in strong contrasting colours with motifs that became well-known, including tortoises, skeletons and sailor tattoos. 

Her mix of sportswear with the fine workmanship of couture was so innovative that her first licensing agreements were offered by American textile manufacturers. 

She mixed with some of the most avant-garde artists of the day including Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. She used their drawings to create patterns and designs for new gowns and even a compact perfume like a phone dial. 

Cocteau created a drawing he gave to Elsa Schiaparelli that was an optical illusion, two faces in profile that also looked like a vase of pink roses. This inspired the designer to create a blue silk jersey coat. with the sketch embroidered by Lesage on the back, that was part of her Autumn 1937 Haute Couture collection.

Other surrealist pieces included leather ankle boots with toes outlined in red stitching, a men’s fragrance bottle in the shape of Magritte's pipe, gloves with red python nails, necklaces encrusted with insects, and handbags with battery-powered decorations. The press articles celebrating Schiaparelli were used to create a newspaper printed fabric that has been copied many times since.

By 1932, Schiaparelli had eight ateliers with 400 employees in Paris, producing sportswear plus day and evening wear. The following year, the designer opened a store and salons in London and an office in New York. The business was expanding so quickly Schiaparelli took over the Hotel de Fontpertuis, at 21 Place Vendôme in Paris. It had five floors and housed Schiaparelli's now 700 strong staff. The ground-floor boutique had a wonderful view across to the Vendôme column.

The designer mixed with some of the most avant-garde artists of the day including Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau.

Dramatic jewellery in 3D 
teeth-shaped beading is 
highlight of the SS21 collection
Elsa Schiaparelli's international success grew rapidly and only seven years after she first opened her Paris atelier, she was featured as the first female fashion designer on the cover of Time, the American magazine, in 1934.

She had also gathered a famous clientele around the world, including Wallis Simpson (Schiaparelli created the trousseau for the future Duchess of Windsor) actresses such as Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Lauren Bacall and French aristocrats like Marie-Laure de Noailles plus film costumes for Mae West.

Schiaparelli launched her first fragrance “S” in 1928 and then released Soucis, Salut and Schiap. By 1937, Schiaparelli had created her famous perfume Shocking which was a great success with its bottle designed by Léonor Fini, shaped like a mannequin with porcelain flowers and a velvet measuring tape. Schiaparelli also created her signature colour Shocking Pink which she used as a leitmotif throughout her work.  


Daniel Roseberry believes that even though he is exploring his own ideas, he still feels intrinsically connected to the Schiaparelli ethos: "As irreverent as all of this seems, it actually follows in the legacy of the house and its founder. Elsa was a great technician: She loved fabric, and she especially loved technical innovations. She was the first couturier to use synthetic fabrics; she was the first to incorporate plastic zippers into her work. Her ambition was to experiment, to be disobedient, in all things: fabrication, shape, color, iconography."

"Elsa's ambition was to experiment, to be disobedient, in all things: fabrication, shape, color, iconography."

A creamy confection, 
like a giant blooming flower
shows Roseberry's mastery 
of volume to create new silhouettes
Roseberry uses volume to create dramatic silhouettes that seem like giant, otherworldly flowers, such as the creamy ensemble with its colossal combination of cape and ruff (see at right). The dress forms a long, pale column that anchors the blooming fabric that frames her face and seems to form an energy field around her. 

The designer's exuberant work has captured the imagination of Parisians and the oversized jewellery, embroidery and voluminous shapes have already given the work an indelible Roseberry stamp. He is is very aware that he is designing for a digital audience in the time of Covid-19. Wthout the real life drama of a runway show, he integrates spectacular visual images into his collections. Jewellery and embroidery form an integral part of his designs and add to their conceptual brilliance.

"One thing that a couture atelier can uniquely do is embellishments, and these pieces are dazzling examples of the art of embroidery and beading," explains Roseberry." "I've always admired how Elsa embroidered pieces ~ in an era in which embroidery had a whispery, almost recessive quality, hers were barbaric and unapologetic.

"I tried to bring that same spirit to this collection; here, the embroidery has an almost raw feeling to it: It's treated like decoration, almost like jewelry ~ the hand of the artisan who made it is not able to be ignored. It's a fitting complement to the silhouettes themselves, which have the same kind of boldness."

"One thing that a couture atelier can uniquely do is embellishments, and these pieces are dazzling examples of the art of embroidery and beading." 

Cascading, silken folds 
in Shocking Pink fall to the floor 
from the model's earrings
Roseberry has created a fluid gown in the Schiaparelli pink, that falls in a cascade of silky, elegant folds to pool at the feet ~ all draped from gold earrings (see at left). 

The rest of the collection is dominated by a surrealist whimsicality that includes shoes finished with gold toes, gilded finger-shaped accessories that appear as simulacrum's of the real thing, plus long, ear-shaped earrings and eye-shaped sunglasses. 

Roseberry started this new Spring/Summer 2021 collection by pondering the conventions of couture dressing. He decided he wanted to start afresh and throw out what he saw as the traditional shapes of haute couture. 

"We started by discarding the usual silhouettes of couture. I wanted to take pieces that aren’t 'supposed' to be shown in this context ~ pants, for example; a bomber jacket ~ and invite people to see them anew," he says. 

"The techniques, too, are unexpected: a pair of blouson leather pants has an elastic waist; a pair of denim jeans is reimagined in stone washed silk duchess and embellished with dangling gold padlocks.  The fabrics are equally inventive and disruptive: along with over-dyed silk faille, molded leather, and crisp dry hand taffeta, there’s also silk-velvet bonded to neoprene, and a column gown draped in sinuous silk jersey. 

"We started by discarding the usual silhouettes of couture. I wanted to take pieces that aren’t 'supposed' to be shown in this context and invite people to see them anew."


Elsa Schiaparelli's signature lock
blown up into a minaudiere,
and pocket padlocks.
"To that end, we referenced many of the codes ~ and looks ~ Elsa invented, both directly and indirectly. Our basket-weave wool cape, embellished with thousands of gold bugle beads, invokes her 1938 hooded veil embroidered to look like hair." 

Elsa Schiaparelli's motif of a padlock is blown up into hand-bag and embellishments for pockets (see at right). Platform black leather boots are finished with irreverent gold toes: "The signature padlock, reimagined here as a hard-shelled minaudière; her measuring tape is blown out into an exaggerated, embellished silk faille train," he says.

Roseberry is giving a strong, yet imaginative edge to his celebration of femininity and womanhood of the future. He  is confident about the direction he is taking Maison Schiaparelli and his success rests on his judicious respect for the past along with his embodiment of Elsa's rebellious spirit. 

Like her, he wants to challenge artistic and fashion norms yet still keep that element of whimsy and humour that delight the spirit and make wearing the designs so appealing.  

"The word "magic" is often used when discussing couture. And it is magical. But behind the magic is a human hand and a human dedication. This collection is a tribute to both the work behind the magic ~ and the magic itself," he says. 


See behind the scenes of the SS21 collection at 21 Place Vendome in Paris with Daniel Roseberry 

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