As Chanel once again celebrated the work of its prized artisans at its Métiers d’Art show in Rome last night, it’s an apt moment to reflect on the phenomena of the showcase that the French fashion house has honed into a sleek and impressive affair since its inception in 2002.
“These shows have indeed evolved and are now becoming a key moment for us in terms of expressing our core values of creativity and craftsmanship, but also in terms of business development and strategy,” Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s CEO told us. “These collections are momentous for us as they not only honour our know-how but also the relationship that Mademoiselle Chanel had personally with these specific locations, or the importance this city has for us and our future development.”
Having initially started showing in its native Paris, the house has taken the world’s fashion press around the world in the pursuit of excellence – from Edinburgh to Ginza, New York to Shanghai – and last night’s show was every bit as extraordinary as the ones that have gone before. Set in the Italian capital’s iconic Cinecittà film studios, Karl Lagerfeld recreated a black-and-white Parisian square for the models to stroll around while at the same time inviting attendees to become a part of the set. This elimination of “the fourth wall” is a tried-and-tested theatrical technique by Chanel and the importance of it isn’t lost on Pavlovksy.
The popularity of these shows stems from the fact that it is an immersive experience and we take people on a journey, we explore the possibilities offered by the location and strengthen its links to Chanel’s cultural heritage,” he continued, referencing the house’s – and Lagerfeld’s – dedication to making everything it does point back to something in the life of its founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (in this case Chanel owned an apartment on Via Giulia, Rome, from where she enjoyed the company of her contemporaries including artist Jean Cocteau, director Luchino Visconti and actress Jeanne Moreau). “It is a key moment for Karl Lagerfeld and the show also cherish these events where they can express their creativity and the Métiers d’Art’s outside of the fashion calendar. All of our creative people focus their energy on being able to create this event and make it unique each time – from the magic of the location, the studio modernity and refinement of the collection to the spectacular décor.”