Into The World Of Chanel’s Haute Couture

Chanel Haute Couture CollectionPHOTO COURTESY OF CHANEL

‘Haute couture’. The words immediately conjure up a rarefied world that few are privy to. To put it simply, ‘fast fashion’ would be on the opposite end of this spectrum. And while the latter is generally disposable and temporary, the former encompasses precious pieces that that one keeps for decades. Many eventually become heirlooms in their own right.

Established in 1915, some six years after she birthed the house of Chanel, Biarritz, France was where Mademoiselle Gabrielle designed her first line of haute couture pieces. Today, it’s undertaken by five ateliers that are housed within 31 Rue Cambon. At the helm, Virginie Viard stands as creative lead.

A made-to-measure affair
A prospective client expresses interest, heads down to Paris (or the atelier visits her wherever in the world she might be), and then the real process begins. Exact measurements are taken, an actual bust created in her size, and fittings ensue.

With the haute couture designs as the starting point, clients can also customise pieces to their liking, whilst keeping to the spirit of the original, of course. Extra buttons, more embroidery, longer hems… these and more are possible with the blessing of the ateliers, and Ms Viard.

Chanel Haute Couture CollectionPHOTO COURTESY OF CHANEL

Cheerleader, but make it Chanel
A glorious parade best describes Chanel’s Spring-Summer 2023 haute couture collection, one filled with a large menagerie of animals created in towering plywood in collaboration with French artist Xavier Veilhan.

Inspired by animal-themed objet d’art found in Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment (like the famed pair of bronzed stags that framed her fireplace), the larger-than-life sculptures had models spilling out during the runway presentation.

Chanel Haute Couture CollectionPHOTO COURTESY OF CHANEL

And in keeping with the theme of parades, the creations were cheerleader-worthy. Intricately beaded shorts, pleated skirts by Lognon and even double breasted jackets completed with the fanciest of buttons came down the runway.

Chanel Haute Couture CollectionPHOTO COURTESY OF CHANEL

Remember the animals found in Coco’s apartment? Well, they made their way onto the haute couture pieces as well. One top had corgis embroidered into it, others had leaping rabbits, alongside deer, kittens and swallows, all coming to life on the pieces.

Chanel Haute Couture CollectionPHOTO COURTESY OF CHANEL

Many also took inspiration from the creations of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, with Viard adding her own touch to the collection. Whimsical, and with oodles of youthful exuberance, there’s also the perfect balance of thick woven tweed embroidered pieces juxtaposing against the lightness of lace, organza and tulle. The result? Balanced looks meant to be held on to and treasured forever.

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