The ruins of Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian formed a dazzling backdrop to Chanel’s opulent Métiers d’Art show. The historic location – birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots – provided the perfect romantic setting for a collection inspired by Caledonia, featuring tartan, tweed, Fair Isle and some rather fetching tartan blankets to keep the front row cosy.
The annual Ready-to-Wear collection showcases specialist craftsmanship, honouring the talents of the ten expert artisan manufacturers housed under the label’s Paraffection umbrella. In the past, the Métiers d’Art show has taken place in Paris, Tokyo, New York, Shanghai and London. Each collection is a celebration of the fashion house’s incredible ateliers, including costume jeweller Desrues, embroider Maison Lesage, goldsmith Goosens, shoemaker Massaro, milliner Michel, floral finery maker Guilllet, embroiderer Atelier Montex and glove maker Causse.
The skilled craftsmanship of Scottish tweed and cashmere still form an integral part of Chanel’s collections today. Just last month, the fashion brand acquired cashmere mill Barrie Knitwear in Hawick after its owner went into administration, securing the jobs of its 176 staff.
There is always a clear theme to the Métiers d’Art show, such as autumn/winter 2012-13’s Bombay-inspired opulence, or pre-autumn/winter 2011-12’s Turkish tea shop. This year, creative director Karl Lagerfeld was inspired by the fashion house’s rich – and perhaps less widely publicised – heritage in Scotland. Chanel’s love affair with Caledonia was born of a real life love affair: that of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and the (then) Duke of Westminster. They spent a lot of time together in the Sutherland region of the Highlands on the Duke’s estate, Reay Forest, as well as the neighbouring lairds’ estates in the 1920s.
Chanel already used Scottish wool in her atelier prior to meeting the Duke, but the relationship certainly gave her time to appreciate the advantages of Scottish materials (and traditions) – most notably tweed. After seeing the Duke wearing the traditional handwoven woollen cloth whilst hunting and fishing, she began to use the fabric to make suits, coats and sporting attire. Chanel’s iconic bouclé tweed was the result of Coco’s experimentation with the cloth, much to the dismay of her French weavers who criticised its tendency to pull and buckle. Coco loved its imperfection and the fashion house’s signature tweed was born. Chanel also introduced the use of tartan and classic Fair Isle into her collections. All three have continued to be used by Karl Lagerfeld, and featured in the autumn/winter 2012-13 show tonight.
The Métiers d’Art show tonight was truly a love letter to Alba, and all it represents to the fashion house.
Here’s a video of last year’s Métiers d’Art show – as soon as this year’s has been uploaded I will post it too! Edit – see below:
Image: Chanel Twitter