Chanel: Late night at Club Castel
For its latest collection Chanel took itself to nightclub Castel, the most famous on the Left Bank, a Parisian late night institution if ever there was one.
Taking a leaf out of many other designers' books, the house even sent out a Chanel show box, with a cover and interiors shot by photo legends Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.
Pre-show, a teaser featured a Dadaist collage of pearls, dark eyes and carnations to the tune of 'Do You Know Where You’re Going To? The theme tune to the 1975 film 'Mahogany,' where Diana Ross plays an ambitious fashion student from the south side of Chicago who goes on to become a successful designer in Rome.
Which only begged the question, in which direction does Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard want to take Chanel? This season it was to the dark splendor of Castel, a private club of faux antiques, red and gold velvet, Keith Haring murals and a gastronomic bistro where French icons like Johnny Hallyday, Caroline of Monaco, Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot rubbed shoulders with Mick Jagger, Aristotle Onassis and Amanda Lear. Where a back-room pianist serenaded rugby stars, hard drinking aristocrats and runway models.
Even its address suggested a frisson of late night high-jinks, 15 Rue Princesse, around the corner from Café Flore, allowing literary figures like Françoise Sagan to stroll over at midnight.
Ironically, the collection looked more like an après-ski cocktail than a Saint-Germain hip aristocratic bash. More Courchevel and Courmayeur than Castel.
The opening looks were a gang of gals in black chenille and tweed boucle coats, worn with mini-skirts; shaggy moon boots and endless necklaces.
Inside the club, they all head downstairs to the party – in matelassé ski jumpsuits; red corduroy dungarees; and great looking parkas in patent sheepskin or black quilting. Viard clearly is expecting an inclement winter, with Nordic sweaters and dresses finished with crystals; or wool beanies finished with fabric red carnations.
The gals snaking their way through the bordello-like narrow corridors, and then stripping down for dancefloor action - in metallic cocktails; acres of legs; two-button faux-fur-trimmed jackets and even more Yeti-like black faux-fur ski boots.
Cutting though glass bead curtains to make an entrance in shiny tops finished with key numerals in the brand’s history – from number 5 to 22 – embossed onto tank tops and T-shirts. Their necks graced with endless chains, pearls, medallions and sautoir necklaces; their eyes all smoky.
Gallons of glitter; even track pants were covered in crystals; while leather coats came in copper and silver. All told, an unquestioned party mood, symbolized by show soundtrack from ace DJ Michel Gaubert, available in the show box, via Apple Music.
“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. I imagined the models doing a show for themselves, going from room to room, crossing each other in staircases, piling their coats up in the cloakroom and going up to the next floor to get changed. And I thought of the shows that Karl would tell me about, back in the day, a long time ago, when the models would dress themselves and do their own make-up,” explained Viard in her program note.
Once again, Viard managed to skillfully knock a couple of years off the Chanel consumer, while remaining very close to the brand’s DNA. She seems to do that each show, and the results at the cash register show her strategy is very much working.
Midway through the video, some models even stripped down to their underwear and leotards in the ladies' bathrooms and began putting on rouge and makeup, echoing Karl Lagerfeld’s youthful memories. Before the long soirée ends at dawn outside the club, as the cast stand and applaud the smiling designer.
Sorry we missed the party!
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