How Chanel Maintains Its Brand Heritage While Still Being Fashionable
Chanel has always been a brand known for its eclectic taste. The Bouclé tweed, quilted handbags, statement jewelry, and it continues to this day. At first, many saw Chanel as a very futuristic brand, one that went against tradition. The brand’s sporting and masculine silhouettes were blasphemous and, at the same time, a harbinger of the future of high fashion. Creative directors have always endeavored to maintain Chanel as a luxury brand, which it still is today. However, the brand also works continually to reach the youngest generation. A generation marked by trends, Chanel strives to keep its traditional designs while mixing them with emerging trends.
While Coco Chanel defines the beginning of the Chanel brand’s heritage, Karl Lagerfeld was and always will be one of the pillars of the brand. Lagerfeld relit Chanel’s flame. He revived the essence of the brand, bringing it back to life. Intervening when the house’s basic items like his tweed suit, were beginning to age alongside the wealthy women who wore them.
Currently, it is Virginie Viard the creative director of Chanel who blends tradition with trends enticing young buyers. After working in the shadow of Lagerfeld for several years, now in the spotlight, it is Viard who boosts the lively aesthetic of the brand.
Viard’s entry as creative director and her first solo debut was marked by the launch of the Cruise 2020 collection. In this collection, we have a smooth transition from the brand showing the sexuality that was previously absent from her usual repertoire. Set in the Grand Palais, transformed into a Beaux-Arts style train station – a symbol of a new adventure.
Since Viard’s entry, Chanel has been marked by collections full of reinvented classics and a great sense of femininity and sexuality. We can find elevated silhouettes, but at the same time soft and also looks worthy of the red carpet. Her designs materialize the uniquely feminine perspective. A perspective the brand has not taken advantage of since Chanel herself was in charge.
Viard has the talent to understand exactly what it-girls look for and want to wear. With this talent, she manages to attract a younger target audience. An audience curious to discover the brand and what it represents. Previously, Chanel sought to attract a more mature audience, choosing actresses Nicole Kidman, Ali McGraw, and Catherine Deneuve as brand ambassadors.
Currently, we find new faces when we speak of the Maison. Kristen Stewart, Soo Joo Park, Margot Robbie, and Lily-Rose Depp led recent campaigns. In 2019, the brand also innovated when it came to streetwear and launched a unisex capsule collection with Pharrell. Most recently at Chanel’s 2020 Métiers D’Art show, the brand once again focused on merging heritage and it-girl style, this time in traditional Haute Couture. Virad even selected Kristen Stewart to be the sole show attendee.
Chanel’s recent adventures in unknown territory signal Viard’s desire to integrate the brand further into pop culture. The brand continues to update its classic image and turn to new generations. We can conclude that Viard inaugurated a new era for the French house. Which celebrates the brand’s customs through contemporary lenses.
Words by Inês Vidal