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Virginie Viard Puts an Impressionist Twist on Chanel Couture

Actor and house ambassador Margaret Qualley served as the bride.

In the nearly two centuries since the movement's inception, the Impressionist painters have inspired plenty of artistic pursuits, from other forms of physical art, to film to fashion. The latest in that long canon? Chanel's Fall 2021 Haute Couture collection, designed by Virginie Viard.

The spark came from portraits of Gabrielle Chanel dressed in 1880s-style dresses, which led Viard to think about tableaux paintings from the likes of Édouard Manet or Berthe Morisot. You can easily see those points of inspiration in the delicate pastel tones fading into one another on tweeds or embroidered florals, and in the almost bustle-like shapes of skirts. There's also plenty of color mixed in. "Because I love seeing color in the greyness of winter, I really wanted a particularly colorful collection that was very embroidered, something warm," said Viard.

Because Viard so loves the play between masculine and feminine, as well as a punk-rock twist, models stormed the runway at Palais Galliera, City of Paris Fashion Museum, with kohl-rimmed eyes and faux mohawks created with clever braiding and punctuated with long bows. Viard's luncheon in the grass may have more of an after-party-at-the-warehouse vibe, but it's no less lovely for it.

For the finale, actor and house ambassador Margaret Qualley served as the couture bride in a look that was incredibly chic in its simplicity, and tossed a pretty bouquet into the crowd. (Laura Brown, editor-in-chief of InStyle, was the lucky recipient. Do you think that means Chanel will loan her the gown for her big day?)

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Throughout her time at Chanel, Viard has proven she does her best work in the couture and métiers d'art collections. Whether it's because there are fewer looks, which forces her to whittle down her ideas, or because she feels more freedom in the medium, it's hard to say, but whatever the reason, this collection is one of her strongest at the helm of fashion's biggest brand.

See the complete Chanel Fall 2021 Haute Couture collection in the gallery below:

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