Chanel takes over a French château for a Metiers D’art collection fit for a queen
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  • Virginie Viard took over a French castle to present her Chanel Métiers d’Art collection yesterday, sans audience. Well almost, Chanel muse Kristen Stewart was there to applaud the models. Here’s everything you need to know.

    The venue

    France isn’t exactly short of a château or two, but nonetheless Viard chose wisely, plumping for the the Château de Chenonceau, also known as the ‘Château des Dames’. It was designed and lived in by women, including Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici. As luck would have it, Catherine de’ Medici’s emblem, which can be spotted throughout the castle, is was a monogram composed of two intertwined Cs, not unlike that of Chanel.

    The vibe

    Of course, presenting a collection without an audience has its challenges, as it contributes so much to the atmosphere. But the lack of spectators (bar Kristen Stewart) only served to enhance this magical ‘parenthèse’ of a whimsical party in a faraway land.

    The collection

    The designs were entirely inspired by their surroundings. Viard imagined what Renaissance women would likely wear today. Gabrielle Chanel herself was said to be enthralled by the women of that era, writing in a 1936 article, ‘I have always been struck by a strange feeling of sympathy and admiration towards the women who lived from François I er to Louis XIII, perhaps because I find them all to be great, with a magnificent simplicity and a majesty imbued with onerous duties.’

    The grand gallery was transformed into a runway, its black and white chequered floor reflected in the monochrome creations sported by the models. Long cream tweed suits mixed in with floating gowns and black capes (after the death of King of France Henri II, Catherine de’ Medici only wore black).

    Key pieces such as jacquard jackets and floral printed jackets were inspired by the tapestries within the castle and the gardens located on either side of it.

    You can watch the full show below:

    The details

    For a collection that showcases the savoir-faire of the house of Chanel and its artisans, you wouldn’t expect anything less than exquisite detailing, and of that there was plenty. The expertise of several hundred embroiderers, feather workers, paruriers, pleaters, shoemakers, hatters and glove-makers located in Paris, the rest of France and Italy, was evident throughout.

    The pearls and jewels, the lace dresses composed of lattices punctuated with studs, the embroidered damask dress, and even the pointy black hat with veil fit for a princess… you are tempted to watch the show again and again so you can notice new details each time.

    A much welcome escape.