Chanel channels old Hollywood glamour for SS21 show

Chanel went back to the timeless glamour of
black and white Hollywood movies in its blockbuster show on the last day of
Paris fashion week Tuesday.

In its biggest catwalk spectacle since designer Virginie Viard took over
the fabled French house from Karl Lagerfeld after his death last year, an army
of the world’s top supermodels walked under a huge Hollywood-style sign
spelling out Chanel’s name.

They included the body positive pin-up, Jill Kortleve, the Dutch model who
is a voluptuous size 16 (US size 12).

Covid-19 restrictions may have limited the number of fashionistas allowed
into the immense Grand Palais in central Paris, but like the decor, Viard
wrote her ambitions large.

Her collection felt like no less than a grand sweep through the long
history of the label founded by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, with a giant nod to
Chanel’s time in Tinseltown in the 1930s when she dressed stars like Greta
Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich and Gloria Swanson.

“I was thinking of actresses on the red carpet… some of whom we haven’t
seen in a long time… their faces a little somewhere else as the
photographers call out to them,” Viard said afterwards.

“And the fans behind the barriers, that very lively side of cinema outside
cinemas, which I love,” she added.

The show — dominated by black and white interspersed with splashes of bold
colour — coincides with the first ever museum exhibition dedicated to Coco
Chanel in the French capital, which opened last week to rave reviews.

Big screen glamour

Viard recreated and updated some of her most beloved looks, with a nod to
her predecessor Lagerfeld’s more street fashion sensibility with logos a gogo.

“Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld dressed so many actresses in their
films and in their lives,” Viard added. “They made us dream.”

“Without redoing clothes exactly and falling into vintage, I wanted it to
be very joyous and colourful and full of life.”

With Paris fashion week forced largely online by the coronavirus, Chanel
streamed the show live for fashion fans.

“Lights, cameras, action!” it declared on Instagram as it aped the opening
of a silent black and white film, placing a huge Chanel sign on the Hollywood

Viard kept up the theme of the brand’s long association with the silver
screen with video clips of models reclining in luxury hotels like movie idols
about to attend premieres.

On Instagram, it also ran clips of French screen goddesses like Jeanne
Moreau, Anna Karina and the Vienna-born Romy Schneider wearing Chanel in
classic movies.

The brand’s association with Hollywood began in 1930 when studio mogul Sam
Goldwyn begged Coco Chanel to come to Los Angeles to give his stable of stars
some “class”.

Chanel resisted at first even as Goldwyn offered her 1 million dollars to come
twice a year, before finally succumbing to his blandishments.

At a party to greet her, the great German director Erich von Stroheim
clicked his heels before kissing her hand, declaring, “You are a seamstress, I

Chanel forgave his snobbery, saying, “Such a ham, but what style!”

Paris fashion week finishes later Tuesday with the Louis Vuitton show at
the long closed La Samaritaine department store, which is due to reopen next

Credit: Chanel pressroom

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