Karl Lagerfeld once said that “sweatpants are a sign of defeat“. Of course, Lagerfeld said many notorious things, but whenever I wear sweatpants myself, I’ve got these words in the back of my head… so when I saw Chanel-sweatpants in Virginie Viard‘s autumn-winter 2021, I was quite disturbed. Sure, the reason for their appearance on the runway can be justified by living in a one-year-long lockdown, working from home and so on. But still, this just doesn’t feel right. And in general, this wasn’t a great Chanel collection by Viard – simply speaking, it’s quite lazy, both in styling and design. Still, there were some ups. After years of memorable Chanel show spectacles in the vast Grand Palais, now closed for renovations, Viard felt that the time was right for a totally different ambiance to showcase collection. “I wanted to show in a small place, a club,” Viard explained during a Zoom preview with Vogue. “I don’t like big rave venues; I prefer that kind of place that is more intimate. Karl was always telling me about the shows he staged in the ’70s with the girls getting dressed on their own in a restaurant in Paris,” she added. Viard lighted on the legendary Left Bank nightclub Chez Castel that has been the epitome of cool for generations of party animals since Jean Castel first opened the club in the 1960s. Cozily arranged on different levels in an 18th-century building or two, the dimly lit boîte on the rue Princesse attracted the likes of Françoise Hardy, Françoise Sagan, Amanda Lear, and Mick Jagger at the time, and has never gone out of fashion. “I love Castel because it’s like a house and very English,” said Viard who was amused by the idea of the Chanel girls coming down the club’s famously narrow stairs in their giant après-ski coats and then leaving them in the coatroom to reveal the skimpy little chiffon numbers underneath. The collection is infused with “ski spirit” (the season’s most prominent trend): Norwegian sweaters, furry Moon Boots, quilted salopettes, voluminous puffers, and ski pants worn with short cropped jackets that Viard has styled either with the midriff bared or with the nightclub-friendly flowered black lace camisoles that also crop up under fluid knit suits or paired with a quilted satin miniskirt. The soundtrack, mixed by Michel Gaubert, featured Diana Ross’s “Do You Know Where You’re Going To? – a song that Viard considers singularly apt for this moment. “Your own pajama party?” posited Viard as an answer. “As we can’t do anything else!”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.