Chanel’s annual Metier d’Art collections hold personal meaning for artistic director Virginie Viard. For the longest time, she was a liaison between the various ateliers responsible for Chanel’s ready-to-wear collections and Karl Lagerfeld when the latter was at the creative mind of the French house.
A quick history lesson: Chanel started purchasing craft companies and suppliers starting in 1985 as a way to protect France’s artisanal specialists. Today, there are reportedly 40 companies under Chanel’s Metiers d’Art (French for “artistic trades”) group.
With Viard at the helm of steering Chanel’s artistic vision, the craft-laden Metier d’Art collections have a heavier significance for and a closer connection to the designer.
This year’s runway show on December 7 took place in Le19M, a modernist seven-storey building situated in Paris’ 19th arrondissement. Designed by French architect Rudy Riicciotti, the name of the building is a symbolic nod to Gabrielle Chanel’s birthday which falls on August 19.
The nearly 270,000 square feet Le19M complex houses 11 of Chanel’s Metiers d’Art ateliers under one roof.
The sprawling complex houses 11 ateliers – these include shoemaker Massaro, embroidery workshop Lesage and feather specialist Lemarie – under one roof, turning Le19M into the ground zero of savoire-faire in France. It is not surprising then that the show’s press notes described Le19M as “the beating heart” of the Metiers d’Art world.
The influence of this new home spilled into the designs of the clothes. Inspired by the “threads of white concrete” that adorn the facade of Le19M, Viard decorated pockets and bags with crisscrossing white lines, while embroidery, such as the silver sequin needlework by Montex, riffed on the building’s gleaming glass exteriors.
Viriginie Viard described this Metiers d’Art collection as “very metropolitan yet sophisticated”.
There is also an urban street quality to this collection which Viard described as “metropolitan yet sophisticated”. Tweed jackets received a youthful injection of graffiti-style embroidery in multi-coloured beads by the craftsmen from Lesage. Meanwhile, jackets with sweatshirt sleeves and coats that were worn opened by the models in the show give the collection a louche quality.
Even the quintessential bridal look that normally closes special runway presentations was a breath of fresh air sans any frou-frou. Model Mica Arganaraz sauntered down halls of Le19M in an off-white sequinned pants and jacket co-ord ensemble. As she walked, she started to unbutton her jacket looking oh so debonair.
Ahead, we cast the spotlight on some of the looks from the collection and highlight the artisanal houses that played a major role in their creation.