Chanel inspired by Karl Lagerfeld for haute couture AW20/21

Chanel artistic director Virginie Viard took inspiration from Karl Lagerfeld for her autumn/winter 2020-21 haute couture collection with a “punk princess” vibe filled with ornate embellishments.


While Viard’s spring-summer 2020 Chanel haute couture collection was influenced by the simplicity and rigour of the abbey at Aubazine, where Gabrielle Chanel had been placed as a child, the thirty looks for the autumn-winter 2020/21 collection focus on a desire for “shimmering opulence and jewellery” taking inspiration from Karl Lagerfeld rather than Gabrielle Chanel.


“I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” explains Viard in the show notes. “With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel. Karl would go to ‘Le Palace’, he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed up women, who were very eccentric too.”


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


Simplicity is out, Chanel has presented an eccentric collection, with touches of Eighties glamour alongside what the luxury fashion house is calling “ultra rock romanticism”, with short party dresses with cinched waists, added bling with tweeds layered with gold chains and pearls, as well as jewels from the Chanel high jewellery collections and shimmering metallic dresses.


The romanticism was also seen in the corolla skirts rustle alongside long dresses that had a very Grand Siècle allure, as well as the painted lace enriched bolero jackets and the diamond-like braiding adorning ink black trouser suits.


Chanel goes “punk princess” with opulent haute couture collection


Highlights included tweeds made of silver streaked ribbon, a black jumpsuit with side cutouts, a jacket with an entirely smocked waist worn over tapered boot-trousers in black suede, a tweed dress embellished with flowers, and a black debutant ballgown with a tiered skirt and jewelled top, styled with Marie-Antoinette laced-up shoes.


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


This was also an haute couture collection to highlight its craftsmanship, with all pieces crafted during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, with all of Chanel’s embroidery partners, including Métiers d’art Lesage and Montex, as well as Lemarié and Goossens contributing to the tweeds embellished with sequins, precious stones, beads and pearls.


While others on the haute couture schedule have opted for big-budget whimsical productions like Dior with its cinematic world filled with mermaids, nymphs, and tree-people, and Giambattista Valli showcasing his magnificent tulle alongside shots of Paris, Chanel opted for a just 1 minute 22 seconds of the models showcasing the looks against a plain backdrop with some awkward dancing. A little disappointing after the teaser shot by Loïc Prigent captured black and white behind the scene glimpses of the Chanel atelier.


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