The Hollywood hills came to Paris as Chanel set its name in lights for its Spring/Summer 2021 collection. To accompany the runway show, Chanel enlisted Dutch photography duo Inez and Vinoodh to create a unique cinematic experience.
The surrealist black-and-white teaser film opened on the iconic Hollywood sign in Santa Barbara, reconfigured as a giant C-H- A-N-E-L, then skimmed across the Hollywood grounds with a magical mash-up of cult Nouvelle Vague films—including Jacque Deray’s Swmming Pool and Pierret Le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard.
And before you knew it, the camera zoomed up and it turned out we’ve all been in Grand Palais the entire time with the same giant Chanel sign sitting front and centre on the runway.
But creative director Virginie Viard is thinking more about the actress, less the movies. “This collection is a tribute to the muses of the House. Some of them are far away, it’s been a long time since we saw them. Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld dressed so many actresses in films and in real life. I was thinking about them who make us dream so much,” she explains in the show notes.
The House of Chanel of course has had a century-old relationship with actresses with the likes of Romy Schneider, Anna Karina and Jeanne Moreau—three grand dames of cinema who also appeared in the show teaser video — both on and off-screen. At the recently opened exhibition Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto, Chanel also integrated a number of garments worn in private life and on-screen by some of the most iconic actresses of 20th century such as Grace Kelly and Delphine Seyrig.
For Spring/Summer 2021, Viard narrowed her focus to conjure an actress’ air, “I was thinking about actresses at the photocall, on the red carpet, that moment when they’re being called to by the photographers: their faces a little distracted, their attitude a little out of sync with the outfits they’re wearing. And then there are the fans waiting for them behind the barriers, this very lively side to cinema that happens beyond cinema, that’s what I like.”
Though the inspiration was old Hollywood glam, the clothes were not a vintage grabfest. Rather, this was a wardrobe for modern-day Chanel starlets. There was a nonchalant mix of logo-heavy daywear with an Eighties twist: big soft shoulders, fluttery dresses, and split and mini-skirts in the House’s signature tweed.
Youthfulness is injected by way of pink Bermuda short suits with pedal pushers; graphic neon T-shirt with Chanel spelled out in rhinestones; micro flap bag hung like pendants on chain belts and necklaces, and a Chanel-branded quilted phone holder worn around the neck.
For after dark, there were several award show-ready dresses and a trio of finale gowns in logo monogram—all in relaxed silhouettes which allow the actresses to move easily from red carpet to after-party. It won’t be long before we see modern Chanel muses like Marion Cotillard, Kristen Stewart and Blackpink’s Jeannie in all these pieces.