For her latest Chanel collection, Virginie Viard took us on a journey over to the North of England.
Chanel put the “C” in Manchester this week, taking over some of the northern city’s landmarks for a three-day luxury and pop culture experience that culminated with the annual Métiers d’Art runway show. Every year the creative director of the brand, Virginie Viard, chooses a different inspiring city to host the Métiers d’art show, selecting a location that is at the forefront of culture (Paris and Dakar were some of the most recent destinations). This year, Viard looked to Manchester – a city known for its influence on music and style and, of course, the pinnacle of nineteenth century textiles due to its industrial hub – and made it home to a luxury fashion runway.
Viard was inspired by the city’s eclectic history, which includes its football fanaticism, the famed Madchester music and nightclub scene of the ’80s and ’90s, and its history as a textile mill powerhouse in the nineteenth century. Her familial ties to small towns resonated with the audience, with Viard expressing her admiration for Manchester’s distinct personality, which distinguishes it from the hectic fashion metropolis.
The immersion in Northern culture began with a pre-show event at a Manchester United vs. Chelsea football game, a symbolically important North-South duel. The bespoke No. 5 Manchester United red football jerseys, a nod to Chanel No. 5, added a sense of sophistication to the joyous atmosphere. The ensuing 2-1 victory by Manchester United set the tone for an optimistic start.
Manchester has long been associated with underground music and cultural movement, having been home to legendary bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Smiths, as well as influential figures such as Morrisey, the Chemical Brothers, Oasis, and New Order. Chanel’s choice of Thomas Street for the new Métiers d’Art collection is a testament to the city’s musical heritage and its embrace of creativity.
“For me, Manchester is the city of music. It incites creation,” Viard explained.
Viard’s innovative vision for this collection involved taking tweed, a quintessential Chanel element, and infusing it with vibrant pop elements. The result was a distinctly Chanel wardrobe influenced by the diverse musical culture of the underground scene. Tweed takes centre stage in this collection, infused with a pop effervescence that adds a rebellious spirit to the timeless elements of Chanel.
“Tweed is central to this collection. I thought a lot about Gabrielle Chanel but I didn’t want to recreate Coco’s look, when she was wearing the Duke of Westminster’s jackets. I took my cue from Coco who brought colour to her tweeds. I added a vibrant, pop spirit to them,” Viard said.
Chanel also features a Sofia Coppola-directed video collage and a bespoke Manchester-centric logo-seal by artist Peter Saville. The logo seal represents the enduring connection between the iconic double C and England. However, the pièce de résistance remains the Métiers d’Art collection set to hit stores worldwide in June 2024.
The collection spans a chromatic spectrum from salmon pink to lemon green, apple to mustard yellow, sky blue to intense red, all infused with a rock-infused underground attitude and a hint of ’60s retro. This kaleidoscope of colours and textures evokes a rebellious and non-conformist elegance. Supermodels Karen Elson and Edie Campbell embodied the collection’s essence, taking centre stage, showcasing the fusion of Chanel’s iconic double C with the insurgent soul of Manchester.
Virginie Viard succeeded in creating a collection that celebrates creativity and innovation while acknowledging the timeless elements that are hallmarks of the Chanel brand. She has achieved a fusion between elegance and edginess, between tweed and rock-infused rebellion. The collection delivers more than just new outfits – it inspires a complete lifestyle and a celebration of diversity.
The Métiers d’Art collection sets the stage for a new interpretation of iconic fashion by infusing it with youthful energy and adding vibrancy to the retro elements of the past. By embracing cultural diversity, music, and creativity, Chanel’s Métiers d’Art collection has opened the door for fashion enthusiasts to join the ever-evolving world of high-end fashion.
The collection celebrates the spirit of Manchester with a rebellious yet refined essence and demonstrates that high-end fashion can adapt and still pay homage to a city that honours authenticity over conformity.