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The Inspiration Behind Chanel’s New Fall/Winter 20/21 Haute Couture Collection

Chanel’s new Fall/Winter 20/21 Haute Couture Collection pays homage to the spirit of Karl Lagerfeld.

The digital Haute Couture Fashion Week has allowed designers to stray away from some of their usual styles and integrate inspirations from elsewhere. 

Chanel’s Couture Collection by creative director, Virginie Viard debuted on the second day of the digital fashion week and displayed a very different approach to stylistic choices than her Spring/Summer Couture collection from earlier this year.

While the preceding collection featured a more dialled down, soft colour palette, Viard’s Fall/Winter Haute Couture Collection showcases bold colours and a more opulent demeanour.

Chanel haute couture Fall/Winter 2020-2021. Photo: Mikael Jansson

“I like working like this, going in the opposite direction of what I did last time. I wanted complexity and sophistication,” says Viard. 

Inspired by Karl Lagerfeld’s ventures to ‘Le Palace’ and the sophisticated and eccentric women he liked to accompany to their parties, a more daring and audacious sentiment is evident in the pieces.

“This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel,” says Viard.

The collection has a punk-like feeling, with sharp cuts and striking silhouettes. “I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn with a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery,” says the designer.

An almost Vivienne Westwood-esk eleganza can be seen throughout the garments with their rich, velvety shades and valiant glamour.

Chanel haute couture Fall/Winter 2020-2021. Photo: Mikael Jansson

The digitalisation of fashion shows during COVID-19 allowed Viard to add elements she would not do so in a normal live show. She thought to add “things that maybe I would not do in a show—punk hair, fine jewelry.”

Thirty looks make up the collection and Haute Couture customers will receive a portfolio of detailed images captured by Mikael Jansson to make their purchase.

Viard mused an array of things, including the chic and cultivated nature of 19th century art from Germany.

“It’s true that I thought about paintings, but it was more German paintings. But I really had Karl’s world in mind”.

The luxury that is Haute Couture is something that is withstanding the current social climate and its meticulously crafted garments are giving us a glimmer of solace during the sombre days of today.

“For me, Haute Couture is romantic by its very essence. There is so much love in each one of these silhouettes, explained Viard. 

“Haute couture? It’s forever; it’s for always”.

Read more about the full collection at chanel.com.

Chanel haute couture Fall/Winter 2020-2021 full collection. Photographed by: Mikael Jansson

How Dior’s Alluring New AW 20/21 Couture Collection Came to Be

With the current climate of the world, Dior has released a short film show of their new Autumn/Winter 20/21 haute couture collection.

‘Le Mythe Dior’ showcases Dior’s new haute couture by creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. The film is a collaboration with director Matteo Garrone and pays homage to Dior’s heritage by setting the scene of divine femininity and elegance.

The film embodies the enticing image of ‘the Dior woman’, who exudes the balance of elegance and allure. Mythological creatures including a mermaid, nymphs, the goddess Galatea, Poison Ivy, and the Sazae-Oni – who comes from Japanese descent, all showcase this idea of an ethereal woman.

The accompaniment whimsical music constructs the sense of a dream-scape utopia and plays on the charm of youthful tales.

The film features real, functional, miniature models of the collection made up of thirty-seven pieces. “It required an attention to detail that was almost obsessive,” says Chiuri. “Everything from the skirt, jackets and linings were all like real haute couture garments.”

This miniature style is an ode to France during World War II, and the presence of the Theatre de la Mode. A collaboration between fashion designers and artists saw a puppet show displaying perfectly crafted haute couture dressed dolls, with gorgeously designed decor by artists.

These scenes of miniature designs were shipped around the world to show that french couture was still very much alive, surviving even the most unfortunate political climates.

It is this ideology that Chiuri translated into her own collection this season while amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This season dolls will be dressed in Chiuri’s collection and travel around the world in a trunk for couture customers to peruse through and purchase, with fittings done over zoom.

Chiuri started working on the collection during lockdown and she didn’t know if she would be able to have a real, live show for it – what she did know was the fantastical direction that she wanted for the pieces.

“It was very clear from the start that my reference would be tied with the dream or fantasy world,” describing the finished collection as “the mythology of fashion”. 

Drawing from female surrealist inspirations including the works of Lee Miller, Dora Mare, Eleonor Carington, Jacqueline Lamba and Dorathee Tanning, the film follows a fantastical tale of feminine mythological creatures and a journey of the miniature collection to find gowns that fit their auras.

“The women surrealists are less well known than the men and often they are regarded as muses rather than the talented artists they were,” says Chiuri. “They were very modern, very unconventional for the time they were living in, and the way they express themselves through clothing really interests me.” 

Chiuri creates a blend of the fantasy and dream world – she needed someone who understood her vision to direct the visual representation of it. “Matteo and I speak the same language… he is a big dreamer,” says the designer.

“During the pandemic, we have been thinking more, reflecting more, dreaming more,” says Chiuri. “Surrealism makes you dream and so should couture.”

This harmonious collaboration celebrates the union of artists from two different realms and shows us what fashion shows may look for the future.