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Brollies, Blazers and Brit Chic: Chanel fashion show takes over Manchester’s Northern Quarter

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Featured image: @ashes_estorie

It’s your typical rainy Thursday in Manchester. Although, it’s not every Thursday you get Chanel taking over your city for a fashion show.

Chanel’s annual Métiers d’Art show has set up camp at Thomas Street for the past two weeks for its much-anticipated show this week.

In the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, the show took place beneath a Perspex roof, protecting the 600 guests, and models from the rain – part of the runway even extended beyond the canopy, with models continuing the catwalk outside, their carefree silhouettes accessorised with white umbrellas.

Guests were seated on pub-style chairs that lined the streets, against a backdrop of independent tattoo parlours, pubs, and karaoke bars which inhabit the neighbourhood.

Chanel says that the collection encapsulates the ‘vibrant pop spirit born in Manchester and kept alive across the decades’ and embraces the creative dialogue between the UK and the house.

The collection, imaged by Virginie Viard, while honouring Chanel’s classic art of tailoring, also playfully points to British music culture.

Featuring an eclectic mix spanning from tweed, miniskirts, and Bermuda shorts, to baker boy caps and cross-body bags, and combining autumnal tones, with vivid colours, the collection shimmers with gold and grit.

The show was widely welcomed with excitement and, in true Manchester fashion, with open arms. However it did not escape criticism, most prominently questioning the resources allocated to this high-end fashion event, amidst a cost of living crisis affecting the region’s population.

On the other hand, the economic benefits that hosting this type of event could bring are undeniable, Luthfur Rahman, Deputy Leader of the Manchester City Council said: “It sends a clear signal to international businesses and the international visitor economy that Manchester is the place to be.

Members of the public gathered throughout the day to secure viewing spots. Crowds watched on car park rooftops and crammed under umbrellas to catch a glimpse of the proceedings – some locals even began streaming videos of the runway from their balconies or bedroom windows.

The event attracted notable names; a host of celebrities from across the globe were spotted throughout the day. In attendance were Kristen Stuart, Hugh Grant, and Tilda Swinton, with rumours swirling around Florence Pugh being sighted in Fallowfield, and Kate Moss’ appearance in Aldi. 

After receiving their invitation with a Chanel package, attendees received, ahead of the show, a party bag filled with printed goods and exclusive gifts including a magazine, custom vinyl, and scarf. Recipients from Manchester Finest took to social media to show their contents.

Despite the consensus that Manchester was a surprising selection for the luxury fashion house, after hearing from Chanel spokespeople and poignant designers, the decision makes sense.

Known for its effervescent spirit and trendsetting history, Manchester emanates a vibrant creative energy that pulses throughout the city. Bruno Pavlosky, president of fashion at Chanel, talks about finding inspiration in this energy that is felt in football stadiums, in arts and in music.

Moreover, Chanel and Manchester share some common ground; both possess a love for nightlife, and Manchester’s rich textile heritage – where Chanel once purchased its velvet and cotton from.

Designer Peter Saville describes the roots of this connection between the city and the founder of Chanel; “Manchester is the original modern city, and in the history of fashion it is probably Coco Chanel who defines original modern more than anyone else.”

A Mancunian Story: reimagined by Creative Director Virginie Viard, this collection was designed to encapsulate the avant-garde presence within this city. Beyond the city’s football history, this show captured Manchester’s musical heritage; Viard stated; “For me, Manchester is the city of music”. This sentiment is echoed by Blue Monday by New Order as the opening soundtrack to the show’s film.

Photography: @ashes_estorie

Chanel’s teaser for the show presents a glimpse of the juxtaposition of chic and street, collaborating with the likes of Ibrahim Kamara and Sofia Coppola amongst others, all immersed in the vibrant atmosphere of Manchester. A series of photographs taken by Jamie Hawkesworth, portraying young people living in Manchester also reflects this desire to capture the spirit of the city.

The event culminated in an exhibition at Victoria Baths which was open to the public throughout the weekend, for those who weren’t lucky enough to snag a ticket to this sold out show, watch from a nearby rooftop, or brave the streets with a brolly,

Beyond the general atmosphere of festive excitement, the arrival of Chanel’s 2023/24 Métiers d’Art show has brought a distinct sense of anticipation for the unknown, as we wait to see the undoubtedly colossal consequences of this event reveal themselves.

About the author / 

Haripraba Thavanendran

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