Chanel Debuts a Cruise Collection of Refined Simplicity

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Chanel Cruise 2021 collection Virginia Viard Karim Sadli
Chanel Cruise 2021Photography by Karim Sadli

In lieu of a show, Virginie Viard unveils her latest collection for the French fashion house digitally

The lockdowns that have been imposed by governments around the world in response to the outbreak of coronavirus have meant that – for the time being at least – runway shows are not possible. Fashion houses are therefore presenting their collections in new or simply digital-based ways. Case in point: Chanel, which this morning debuted its latest – Cruise 2021 – collection via a series of collection, look and landscape pictures by photographers Karim SadliJulien Martinez Leclerc and Bea De Giacomo respectively.

Titled Balade en Méditerranée (a trip or ‘stroll’ around the Mediterranean), the collection represents the eighth offering from the relatively newly installed artistic director of fashion collections, Virginie Viard, who took inspiration from Capri, the island in Italy’s Bay of Naples.

“Initially I had Capri in mind, where the show was supposed to take place, but didn’t happen in the end because of lockdown,” says Viard. “So we had to adapt: not only did we decide to use fabrics that we already had, but the collection, more generally, evolved towards a trip around the Mediterranean ... The islands, the scent of the eucalyptus, the pink shades of the bougainvillea.”

As well as Capri, the collection takes cues – in its spirit at least – from the “free, laidback allure” of the legendary actresses of the 1960s when they would withdraw to the Italian and the French Riviera for their holidays.

Captured by Sadli against a backdrop of a blood-red sunset (in Paris, not on the Mediterranean), the pieces were designed with a sense of lightness – maybe even practicality – in mind. This is a cruise collection, designed for peoples’ holidays, after all. Several long skirts can be transformed into strapless dresses when pulled up, while long jackets hewn from black chiffon can be worn by day over swimwear, or by night with an embroidered bandeau top and jeans – “and if worn over bare skin, it becomes a déshabillé,” says Viard.

Elsewhere in the collection – which largely comprises colourful-but-dark, softly cut tailoring – fine transparent lamé meets crepe, leather “as supple as a second skin” and tweed that is left unlined to echo that sense of lightness.

Discover the collection at