One might not immediately associate ski holidays with Parisian nightlife, but that's the connection Virginie Viard is making at Chanel for her Fall 2021 collection, which is packed with dichotomous pairings such as long tweed jackets with furry boots and ski suits embroidered with the house's signature camellia with sharp button-downs.
The film presentation, directed by Inez & Vinoodh, had models traipsing around Parisian hotspot Castel, winding up and down stairs and depositing their coats at the coat check. Viard credits the fashion shows Karl Lagerfeld would tell her about, where models did their own hair and makeup for a girls' night out vibe.
"I love contrasts, so for the more voluminous winter pieces, I wanted a small space. I don't know if this is because of the times we live in, but I wanted something warm, lively," Viard wrote in the show notes. "It's very sensual."
It must be very challenging — not to mention exhausting — to have your predecessor's name mentioned every single time you present your work. By now, Viard should be able to stand on her own. The trouble is, over the course of several seasons of mixed reviews, she hasn't done a particularly great job establishing what her vision for the brand is beyond presenting a watered-down, more commercial version of what Lagerfeld did over the course of a few decades. She's able to excel at haute couture, but ready-to-wear presents a fairly constant stumbling block.
There are pieces in here that are almost guaranteed hits, from denim embellished with interlocking double-Cs, flashy belly chains and contrasting knits reminiscent of some of Chanel's most coveted looks from the '90s. But the fun of those moments is muddled a bit by misplaced accessories (in particular, elastic-banded belts) and mismatched colors that were likely trying for a cool, laissez-faire mood but instead landed in "getting dressed in the dark" territory. Frankly, few look like they actually fit correctly, which is either an error in styling or some bizarre choice in silhouette.
If Chanel wants Viard to succeed — and by letting her stay in the position to work out the kinks for a comparatively long time, a rarity in fashion, it seems like they do — they might do well to bring someone onto her team who can help add more life and clarity to her runway presentations.
See the complete Chanel Fall 2021 collection in the gallery below: