Chanel's first digital fashion show
Chanel creates a digital fashion experience to replace its cancelled Cruise show in Capri
Even Chanel, one of the mightiest fashion brands in the world, hasn't been immune to the disruption, as evidenced by its inaugural digital fashion show which premiered this week to present its Cruise 2020/2021 collection.
Formerly the collection that filled in the gaps between the runway show pieces (and actually sold), the last decade saw 'Cruise' become a big deal in luxury fashion. Often presented away from the fashion capitals in far-flung and exotic locations, brands not only transported press, buyers and VIP customers to the show, but spent days immersing them in the world of the brand.
The last three Chanel Cruise collections, however, have been shown in Paris, taking advantage of the vast proportions of the Grand Palais
to build sets that transported show-goers to another world (and often another time) entirely.
This year was going to be different. Virginie Viard, who took the helm of Chanel last year following the death of Karl Lagerfeld, had planned to take the show back on the road. 'Initially I had Capri in mind, where the show was supposed to take place,' she said. 'But [that] didn't happen in the end because of lockdown.
'So we had to adapt: not only did we decide to use fabrics that we already had, but the collection more generally evolved towards a trip around the Mediterranean… The islands, the scent of the eucalyptus, the pink shades of the bougainvillea.'
That evolution played out with a lightness to the collection, a sense of fresh air and sea-scented breeziness that imbues not only the industrial fan-heavy video (backdropped not by the shimmering shoreline of a Mediterranean beach but an actual backdrop in a studio in Paris) but the fine, often transparent fabrics and the ease with which they're worn.
Items are designed to be multipurpose: a capsule wardrobe that enables travelling light: 'that can be carried in a little suitcase on wheels, a shopper and an embroidered handbag,' said Viard. Long skirts can be pulled up to become strapless dresses, jackets can be worn with sheer little dresses or over a pair of crepe shorts. Fluid wraparound dresses and skirts are designed for ease of movement day or night.
As ever, accessories and styling play a big part in the telling of the story: a focus on the waist is emphasised by belly chains (as seen on Gigi Hadid at the brand's Metier d'Art show in December) and tie-waisted jackets. Bags are oversized and bright with sequined, woven or tufted finishes while the teeny-tiny monochrome take on a purse belt pairs perfectly with visor-topped sunglasses.
As well as a collection video starring models Mica Argañaraz and Karly Loyce, Chanel has also released a selection of inspirational photos that capture the wide skies and beautiful vistas that for many of us are the very essence of travel and a much-missed luxury. And it's one that Chanel is determined to return to, even while other luxury brands are reconsidering the impact (both environmental and financial) of showing multiple collections per year.
'I don’t know if the right number is two or six; it’s up to each brand,' brand president Bruno Pavlovsky told Business of Fashion. 'But we are quite advanced in the calculation of our carbon impact; all the time we’re making a lot of progress in our approach. And we feel it’s important to do these shows. We still need to have the creative freedom to express each moment.'
To see the full collection, which will go on sale in November, visit the Chanel website here.