In case you hadn’t heard, Chanel announced that it would be showing its Métiers d’Art collection in Manchester earlier this year. The heritage luxury French House that continues to serve some of the richest ladies on Earth set to take on the heart of British music culture, the birthplace of gritty bands like The Smiths, Joy Division, and Oasis, made no sense then. And now that the show has happened, we’re still just as confused.
Days before the show took place, Mancunians saw their Northern Quarters transformed, as a temporary outdoor catwalk was put in place, as well as a Chanel-branded mural. Chanel also put out a promotional video made by the iconic Sofia Coppola, serving as a nostalgic nod to Manchester’s finest culture-defining moments, from Madchester and its temple of hedonism, the Haçienda, to John Cooper Clark, the original Punk Poet.
On the day of, what seemed like Kate Moss was spotted in Aldi, before going for a coffee with a strategically placed Aldi bag. The internet obviously lost its shit, though turns out it was the fake Kate Moss. We also saw worldwide industry people flock to the city, posting to their stories about the typical rainy weather and Manchester’s sights to see, much to the locals’ dismay.
The show kickstarted in the late afternoon, and to Chanel’s credit, the show was very Chanel. Creative Director Virginie Viard sent down an array of tweed pieces, in the form of coats, fitted jackets and their matching skirts falling just over the knee, some adorned with floral motifs and others with a houndstooth pattern. Models like Amelia Gray and Jilla Kortleve were spotted on the runway, wearing a sparkling suit jacket-dress with knee-high socks and flat pumps, and a sequin-adorned strapless dress with a pearl double C mini belt respectively.
While our predictions for guests included Manchester icons like Liam Gallagher, Molly Mae, and Coronation Street’s Gail Platt, the attendance didn’t honour these legends, giving front row seats to the likes of Alexa Chung, Aitch, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Grant, and Kristen Stewart, among others. While Chanel did honour some British figures, there seemed to be a lack of connection to the essence of Manchester, despite the Métiers d’Art show being set there.
Métiers d’Art, which translates to ‘art professions,’ was initially launched as part of the House in 2002, under Karl Lagerfeld’s leadership. The aim of Métiers d’Art is to highlight the House’s artisans, with a fashion show held outside the regular calendar, and most often outside of the big four cities. It has been held in places such as Dallas, Edinburgh, Mumbai, Hamburg, and now, Manchester.
Accompanying its promotional video by Coppola for this event, Chanel stated that it “has chosen to present the 2023/24 Métiers d’art show in Manchester, one of the most effervescent cities of pop culture and an avant-garde one, whose bands, spanning all genres, have changed the history of music.” Less of an explanation and more of a quick history blast, this statement did little in clearing up the confusion surrounding this event.
While showing out of the big four for an off-schedule show somewhat aligns, some locations just feel too far disconnected from Chanel to make sense. For example, Hamburg was smart, because it’s Lagerfeld’s hometown, but Manchester, on the other hand, doesn’t make sense.
What is quintessentially Mancunian – the Madchester movement and oversized kagools and trainers – is not quintessentially Parisian-style Chanel – pearls, baker hats, and gold-chained crossbody bags. As fashion critic and show attendee Suzy Menkes puts it: “What connection could possibly exist between the classy elegance of Paris and the cheery, brash, hard-working but openly good-time city in England, where the rain fell relentlessly but the hardy, dressed-up women walked out defiantly with bare legs?”
Manchester is the home of the weekend, thanks to the hard work of Mancunian workers’ rights activists, and of course, who could forget the northern city is the founder of football too. All of these pioneering moments were reflected in the minute-long video which was shared on instagram.
Let’s be honest: no one was wearing a Chanel “Mamie Pink” two-piece suit to grind their teeth in the two-stepping four-to-the-floor golden age of the Haçienda, were they? Manchester’s musical pioneers favoured the hardwearing practicality of loose-fitting jeans and waterproof jackets to shield them from the elements, and not a heated undercover canopy in the Northern Quarter.
Online, opinions were divided, though most agreed that it was “bizarre” for Chanel to set up its show in the city. Some did commend the brand for its one-night-only contribution to its economy, but at what cost?
Dear Chanel, next time you think about going to Manchester for a show, at least consider putting Soph Aspin’s “Mash Up” as the background score.
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