Chanel SS21 Haute Couture: ruffles, sequins and a horse-riding Princess Bride

(Image credit: Gary Schermann)

With Haute Couture Fashion Week in full swing during a global pandemic, Virginie Viard couldn't put on the grand shows we've become so accustomed to with Chanel, but no matter. Instead, she hosted an intimate and joyful celebration, with a smattering of celebrity friends.

The venue

Chanel always takes over the Grand Palais for its shows, transforming it for each collection (we've had supermarkets, rocket ships, waterfalls, forests and snowy chalets in the past). For the SS21 Couture collection, the space was a little more paired back, but nonetheless special. Viard wanted to imagine a small family wedding, with floral arches, petals everywhere and a magical white tent.

The vibe

Celebratory. 'I knew we couldn't organise a big show, that we would have to invent something else, so I came up with the idea of a small cortege that would come down the stairs of the Grand Palais and pass beneath arches of flowers. Like a family celebration, a wedding...' Viard said.

And though the guest list was understandably reduced, it was no less stellar. Socially-distanced friends of the brands came to celebrated, including Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Vanessa Paradis and daughter Lily-Rose Depp, Charlotte Casiraghi and more.

The collection

The spirit of celebration continued with the collection. Sequinned separates, lace dresses appliquéd with delicate daisies, flounced crêpe georgette dresses and ruffled petticoats were all an ode to dance and the freedom of summer fêtes. Gigantic tulle skirts (excellent for social distancing it has to be noted) were paired with chic waistcoats and satin shirts, while the house's tweed suits got a sugared almond makeover.

Then the pièce de résistance, the bride making her grand entrance on a majestic horse for the grand finale. Inspired bu the 1920s, her long dress in ecru satin crêpe with a train, was embroidered by Lesage with strass and pearl butterflies, plus a wing collar and shirt cuffs. A delicate veil finished off the look beautifully.

The details

It is in the details that you see the true savoir faire that makes Haute Couture so special. The Maisons d’art, partners to the House of CHANEL, were involved in the collection's thirty-two looks. The Montex Atelier made the embroidered macramé of a long dress in pearl grey tulle while delicate feathers by the House of Lemarié embellish the organza flounces of a little dress in black tweed.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.