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Magnifissance

Queens of the Castle: Chanel Metiers d’art 2020/21

A chateau in Loire Valley plays host to CHANEL’s Metiers d’art 2020/21 collection.

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A chateau in Loire Valley plays host to the CHANEL Metiers d’art 2020/21 collection.

Château de Chenonceau
The two interlinked Cs at the Chateau de Chenonceau are said to have inspired Chanel’s legendary logo.

Since 2002, the CHANEL Metiers d’art shows have been one of the house’s annual highlights. Always themed around a destination that carries significance for the brand, this off-season collection celebrates the specialty ateliers that work to create the fine details that define the CHANEL legacy. Fostering these maisons d’art has been fundamental to the CHANEL mission since 1985, when the house first acquired the parurier Desrues to make its signature costume jewellery. Since then, nearly 40 ateliers, employing several hundred artisan embroiderers, feather workers, paruriers, pleaters and more, have come together under CHANEL’s guidance.

Chanel Metiers d’art 2020/21
A studded ribbon trellis by atelier Lesage weaves over a sheer black organza dress in a Chenonceau-era style.

The 2020/21 Metiers d’art show once again tributes these incredible works with a dramatic display in the storied Château de Chenonceau. Nestled in the Loire Valley, the early 16th century castle is colloquially known as Le Château des Dames, or The Ladies’ Castle, thanks to its notable lineage of female owners. Amongst the most famous proprietors were Diane de Poitiers, Louise de Lorraine, and Catherine de Medici—the widow of Henry II, who left the property with a unique touch: her monogram composed of two intertwined Cs, not unlike Chanel’s classic double-C logo.

Château de Chenonceau
Nestled in France’s Loire Valley, 16th-century Château de Chenonceau plays backdrop to the CHANEL 2020/21 Metiers d’art show.

“We don’t know if Coco was directly inspired by [Catherine de Medici], but it is highly likely because she so admired Renaissance women,” says Virginie Viard, artistic director of CHANEL. “Her taste for lace ruffs and the aesthetic of certain pieces of her jewellery come from there. Deep down, this place is a part of Chanel’s history.”

The runway for the show was set in one of Catherine de Medici’s galleries, where the black and white diamond tiles matched everything from monochromatic jacquard and geometric patchwork tweed to sequined miniskirts. The castle’s narrow, elongated proportions echoed in the collection’s slim silhouettes, such as the long black velvet coat nodding to Catherine de Medici’s perpetual black dress following the loss of her husband.

Chanel Metiers d’art 2020/21
Left: The tweed ensemble and cape in a warm palette recall the hues of the castle’s famous tapestries. Right: The double-C logo adorns a black and silver wedge in an updated take on CHANEL’s trademark two-tone pump.

Paraded along the chateau’s grand halls, signature pieces included a period-inspired black dress overlaid with stud-punctuated lattices of black ribbons by Lesage; a damask dress featuring at the bodice a colourful embroidery panel by Lemarié; and fanciful two-tone silver wedge sandals lending a modern touch to a bygone era. An understated tweed cape nodded to the castle’s famed tapestries, while the floral embroidery on a jacket lapel seemed to take its cue from the grounds’ exquisite gardens.

Chanel Metiers d’art 2020/21
Floral embroidered motifs along a cream jacket’s wide lapel evoke the exquisite gardens lining the castle grounds.

The worlds of the two powerful women—Catherine de Medici and Gabrielle Chanel—are separated by time yet intersect in their lifestyles; a theme that author and French literature professor Fanny Arama explores in her text titled From One Renaissance to Another. Inviting readers into the two markedly different eras, Arama offers a glimpse into the women’s respective passions—the castle’s elaborate architecture and the design of fine couture. We share this captivating work exclusively with our own readers here.

This story is from Magnifissance Issue 105

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