The silhouettes might be simple—sweaters or sleeveless vests worn with high-waisted pants, skinny cardigan jackets and liquid satin shirts with full romantic ballet skirts—but the beauty is in the detail. This is the haute couture, after all, and the sort of garments we may have become familiar with in our work-from-home lives have actually been encrusted with superb embroideries from the houses of Cécile Henri, Hurel, Montex, Emmanuelle Vernoux, and Lesage, or made from custom, hand-painted lace by Solstiss, or scattered with artificial blossoms by Lemarié. Hurel reinterpreted a sample from the historic archive of Kitmir that they acquired, the embroidery house created by Duchess Marie, the sister of Russia’s Grand Duke Dmitri who was Coco Chanel’s lover in the early 1920s. Chanel showcased Kitmir embroideries in her own designs at the time. Using the tiniest embroidery beads available, worked into the most delicate quilted diamond pattern, the single dress took Hurel’s workrooms several months to make—almost the entire time, in fact, that Viard and her ateliers were working on the collection from conception to presentation.
Look closely and you will see, for instance, that the full swirling hem of a flower-scattered chiffon dance dress is edged with individually cut-out and re-embroidered blossoms—a flourish with which Chanel herself used to finish some of her designs in the 1920s and ’30s, including some examples on display in the exhibition “Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto” at Paris’s Palais Galliera (currently closed due to France’s COVID protocols).
This season, Viard has also worked with photographer Anton Corbijn, whom she met when he shot her for the December 2020 Vogue profile, La Vie de Virginie, and whose music industry credentials—he has shot videos for U2 and Depeche Mode, among many others and directed Control, the magisterial biographical movie about Joy Division’s Ian Curtis—appealed to the rock chick in her.
The fabled haute couture salons on the rue Cambon have just been reimagined by the esteemed decorator Jacques Grange, a project initiated by Karl Lagerfeld who, as Viard recalls, mischievously told Grange that after his fabled clients Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé had both died, they could finally work together. The result, says Viard exultantly, “is great, really sophisticated!” and she asked Corbijn to photograph her wedding cortege in these salons. Corbijn’s portfolio of family portraits includes Chanel ambassadors Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, and Vanessa Paradis and her daughter, Lily-Rose Depp, while the bride, meanwhile, poses on the famous staircase with its mirror-faceted walls reflecting the charming Lesage embroidery of flights of pearly butterflies encircling her sleek ivory satin skirt dress, a dress, as Viard says, “a little bit like something seen in the old pictures—ivory satin, embroidery, and a big veil, not quite 1920s, but that atmosphere.”