With sweeping synergy, this season’s Métiers d’Art collection read like the limited Chanel edition of connect-the-dots. Virginie Viard invited guests to Le19M, the newly opened building devoted to the workshops of the maison’s artisans, where she presented her most crafts-centric collection within the very same architecture that had informed its cuts and motifs. “I feel like I’m back at school when I’m here,” Viard said after the show, and she’d get top marks for organization. Named after the arrondissement it inhabits, the triangular Le19M was designed by Rudy Ricciotti whose “concrete thread” façade evokes the intricacy of embroidered haute couture cloth. Viard echoed those lines—as well as elements from the building’s interior—in a collection she called “metropolitan.”
You could see the façade’s organic grid-like structure in the tweed pockets that adorned the slender column coat that opened the show, and likewise on the tunic that followed. The idea was more figuratively suggested in the three-dimensional knitting of a purple crop-top-and-culotte ensemble, or the hand-spun gold ribbon embroidery of the top in exit 26. In the game of synergy, however, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s the reality for Lesage, Montex, Lemarié, Lognon, Goosens, Maison Michel, and Massaro—the heritage artisans now based at Le19M—whose painstaking, super time-consuming, beautiful pieces of craftsmanship are put into the world to contribute to a bigger picture: the full look.
Placing these age-old practices in a contemporary context, Viard took that look to the streets—at least those left of the River Seine. Interpreting the Chanel branding through graffiti-like embroidery, she exercised her take on the logomania that’s increasingly filled the Instagram pages of 2021. A top nestled the double-C among floral appliqué, the same logo was playfully speckled on cardigans and trousers in fluffy silver embroideries, and the Chanel name appeared tagged in multi-colored crystals across the front pockets of a tweed blouson that evoked a sweatshirt. In a world where streetwear has taken on its own literal meaning—clothes for any street, everywhere—Viard was living up to the duties Chanel has set itself with Le19M: securing the survival of rare craftsmanship by connecting it to the future.
You could say that’s the very raison d’être of the Métiers d’Art collection, too. Supporting that point, mid-show the Korean top model Soo Joo walked off the runway and stepped onto a pedestal where she transitioned into her new pop star alter ego Ether. Alongside Oneohtrix Point Never—the vaporwave artist also known as Daniel Lopatin, who produces for The Weeknd—she performed her single “Haemin,” followed by the track 12.21 written specially for the finale. Michel Gaubert and Ryan Aguilar—Chanel’s musical supervisors—referred to the dance/trance orchestration as “exquisitely detailed music-making: sonic vignettes that kiss each other.” In that sense, everything came full circle on the Chanel runway: from streetwear to music, nowadays couture seems to be the magic word.