What is it with animals this week in Paris? Following hot on the hooves of the Schiaparelli show, the Chanel spring couture show ‘trotted’ out on wheels with an orchestrated performance, choreographed by French artist Xavier Veilhan. They came one by one in giant mobile structures, an elephant, horse, deer, a bird, a buffalo, and a lion joining the already positioned croco-chien and camel. The models emerged Helen of Troy-like from the Trojan depths made from paper, wood and cardboard.
The procession of the animals was inspired initially by pieces within Madame Chanel’s apartment at 31 rue Cambon with its antique deers, frogs and lacquered birds, which then evolved into the fun of a circus, a fair, a festivity. Please note: Chanel are not suggesting that circuses with live animals be brought back, obviously.
Tinged with a youthful innocence the ringmaster, Virginie Viard uniquely finished many of the looks with top hats and bow ties. It was intended to be light-hearted, theatre – something Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin sitting front row appreciated.
The premiers who spend thousands of hours crafting the couture, embraced this escapism and joy, evident in the exquisite beading of tiny animals and birds that flourished throughout. A corgi appeared on the front of a jacket in what can only be a nod to the late Queen Elizabeth.
The Petit Palais, where Chanel currently shows is a raw and empty space far from the fantasia of rue Cambon and the swagger of royalty, yet somehow these supersize me wooden animals added an intimacy to everything – something that Chanel couture thrives on.
Photography courtesy of Chanel.