In writing about her latest haute couture collection for Chanel, Virginie Viard wrote, “We sing much about museums but not enough about the muses. Is it because we rarely meet them?” It’s a sentiment that touches on the reality of erasure in art: when we praise great artists, those who inspire them so often get lost, reduced or ignored. Viard’s collection reframes our focus, however, by drawing inspiration from French female artists Berthe Morisot and Marie Laurencin whose coloured works include a portrait of young Coco Chanel.
Taking place amongst the Neo-Renaissance architecture of the Palais Galliera, Viard showed pieces made of tulle and chiffon that looked light enough they might float away. Drawing from impressionist techniques, the clothes mimicked an artist’s palette with mosaic rhinestone buttons and paint brush strokes with feathers and fine embroidery. Delicate dahlia petals were fixed to dresses, and skirts decorated by roses, recalling the gardens of a Monet painting. There was also a gardenia-strewn cardigan jacket made of feather strands that apparently took 2, 000 hours of handwork to make. Not only was the fashion a reminder of the beauty of art, but also served to reinforce the fine art of couture itself.
The finale look, modelled by Viard muse and actress Margaret Qualley, was a throwback to Chanel in the pre-WWII era. A soft pink satin bridal gown that was complete with black pillbox hat and veil made of multi-coloured sequins, it was as pretty as Chanel has ever been. The scene of Qualley joining the other models on the steps of the Galliera, as petals descended down will be one to remember.