Principles of trendless clothing made to last reflect a sustainability-influenced shift within the fashion industry
The splashiest new venue in Paris fashion, the setting for a Chanel catwalk show bedazzled with pearls and sequins, is a workshop that celebrates the old-fashioned art of craft-made clothes that last a lifetime.
At Chanel’s Metiers d’art, Virginie Viard made only the shortest of bows. The spotlight was instead on the 600 artisans, including pleaters, goldsmiths, and embroiderers who worked at le19M, the building where the show was held. Victoire, an early 20-year-old machinist, demonstrated Chanel’s quilted stitching technique. Marina, a jewel maker, guided guests through creating a pair of double-C earrings.
Although fashion made at le19M is not affordable for all, it is still possible to afford fashionable clothing that is durable. This principle, which was once considered an outdated concept during the industry’s ebullient expansion, is now in tune with the times. And a show event that highlights the talents of those behind the scenes – a contrast to when Karl Lagerfeld was Chanel’s larger-than-life frontman – reflects a sustainability-influenced shift in the industry to considering how clothes are made, as well as how they look.
Before the show, Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, said, “When you think about a fashion atelier you picture something old.” “We wanted to create somewhere young people would love to work so we tried to not make it boring.” A seven-storey structure is surrounded by a white concrete exoskeleton. The courtyard garden is stylishly decorated with nesting boxes and beehives. Pavlovsky believes that futureproofing fashion requires a new generation of talent to take over the skills lost in mass production. Other top houses, such as Dior, Balenciaga, and Valentino will also be represented in the workshops.
Le19M is named both after one of Coco Chanel’s lucky numbers and after its 19th arrondissement location in a .Paris .suburb. Chanel is known for her narrow, haughty vision of Parisian chic. But Viard seems to be moving away from this snobbishness and into an aesthetic that recognizes Paris beyond Haussman’s boulevards. Viard stated that she wanted the Metiers d’art collection “metropolitan, but sophisticated”. She asked rapper MC Solaar (realname Claude M’Barali), to create a companion text. He grew up in Saint-Denis. These tweed jackets were worn as bomber jackets with culottes that looked almost like basketball shorts. Bleached jeans were also available, as was a tracksuit with the Chanel double C embroidery.
Chanel this week faced a brutal social media backlash after TikTok influencers roasted the brand for the .disappointing contents of a PS600 advent calendar. Videos of Chanel stickers, temporary tattoos, and plastic snow globes being unboxed went viral. One commenter on Instagram asked if the film was paid for by advent calendar sales. Pavlovsky admitted that it was possible they made a mistake. Pavlovsky admitted that the matter is being taken seriously.
Chanel has previously presented Metiers d’art collections to Metiers d’art in New York, Moscow and Edinburgh, but this show focuses on Chanel’s French identity. It seems that globetrotting is not the current zeitgeist, as travel restrictions are tightening.