It’s the most magical time of the year, darlings! Granted, you might assume that I’m referencing the holidays – and while I do wish you a joyous time of lighting the menorah and decking the halls in anticipation of Christmas – I’m instead referencing a very special date on the fashion calendar. Since the early 2000s, the House of CHANEL has held a very special show outside of the typical fashion week schedule that is utterly unique and highlights a yearly collection that is truly incredible. Presented under the title of Métiers d’Art, these collections are a celebration of, and an homage to, the incredible ateliers that CHANEL partners with. Showcasing the staggering talents of these highly specialized artisans, the collections highlight these insanely talented craftspeople who have perfected their individual arts. From embroidery and beading, to shoe and hat making and more, these ateliers represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship in each artform. And artform they are! The seemingly simple creation of a pleat, a button, or a silk flower is elevated to the highest standard, thanks to these ateliers.
As with previous years, the collection was shown at a destination and inspired by the very location in which it was shown. This year brought CHANEL back to the United States by way of New York City and the legendary MET. This is not the first time CHANEL has utilized a U.S. location for a Métiers d’Art collection – the 2013/2014 Paris-Dallas collection was staged in the Texas metropolis that has a history with the House. Dallas-based Nieman Marcus warmly embraced Coco Chanel’s return collection in the early 50s and subsequently bestowed upon her the store’s Award for Distinguished Service in the field of fashion. This choice of New York is also a celebration of the House and its founder Mademoiselle Chanel’s storied history. It was the New York-based press outlets Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar that first championed Mademoiselle Chanel’s first collections in the United States. The city later welcomed her back in the 1930’s with the press and public remaining as enamored with her and her designs as they did years prior. And in fact, this is also a homecoming in that one of the first Métiers d’Art shows was shown in New York in 2005, and a year later, the Cruise Collection was shown at one of the city’s most iconic locations, Grand Central Station.
With the towering magnificence of the MET’s Temple of Dendur as the backdrop, the collection evoked a feeling of Egyptian splendor mixed with the energy of New York. Prints designed by graffiti artist Cyril Kongo blended beautifully with rich gold tones and the emblematic scarab betel, a reference to ancient Egypt. And on the subject of gold, a color particularly loved by Mademoiselle Chanel, it is found in a myriad of tones throughout the collection and plays against the rest of the collection’s color palette exquisitely. Chanel classics like beige, white, and black are found alongside coral orange, jade green, turquoise, and lapis lazuli blue for a brilliant rainbow of tones. The silhouette featured throughout is one that is sleek and slender, with hips defined by wide belts and shoulders highlighted with a plastron collar. Wonderfully feminine, day dresses, suits, and coats are done knee-length, with a hemline that is slightly shorter in the front. Fabrications like tweed, leather, denim, jersey, and more, are adorned with the incredibly intricate work of embroidery ateliers, the Houses of Montex and Lesage, as well as with the work of the House of Lemarié. It should be noted that Lemarié has been creating feather and flower embellishments since the 1880s, and is responsible for the iconic handmade camellias that have become emblematic of the House of CHANEL.
There’s something about the Métiers d’Art collection that I find incredibly special, and that’s the fact that it is a sartorial love letter to the workshops that support the legendary House of CHANEL. While the pieces that make up these collections are beautiful on their own, it is what each piece represents that makes them all the more special. Each piece of jewelry, bit of lace, and length of silk represents would could be a dying art if not for the commitment of the House of CHANEL to preserving the ateliers that produce each of these materials. And while Monsieur Lagerfeld is a legend in his own right, it has always struck me how much he clearly values the talented individuals around him as well as his devoted clientele. From closing this year’s Métiers d’Art show with his long-time studio director Virginie Viard at his side, to recreating a working atelier as the backdrop for the Haute Couture 2016/17 complete with actual CHANEL petites mains at work, he does not shy away from crediting the talented individuals who bring his spectacular creations to life.
If this gushing declaration of love for the CHANEL Métiers d’Art 2018/2019 Paris-New York collection hasn’t been too much darlings, just you wait! I’ll be sharing a dedicated look at the incredible accessories from the collection next week. Whether you’re a CHANEL devotee, or just casual admirer, you won’t want to miss out on these incredible pieces!