Chanel’s Métiers d’Art 2022/23 show makes history in Senegal – SURFACE | Bot To News


The French house’s inaugural show in Africa highlights the rare talents of its specialist artisans and kicks off an important partnership to mentor Senegalese artisans.


December 11, 2022

Photograph of Malick Bodian with Ibrahim Kamara, courtesy of Chanel

Although it exists outside the typical fashion calendar, Chanel’s Métiers d’Art is always a highlight of the couture circuit. The annual event transcends the typical catwalk show by recognizing the artisans taken under the wings of the French brand at the new Le19M building in Paris, the residence of Chanel artisans, putting the rare manufacturing skills involved in embroidery, shoemaking, hat making, feather work and pleating. full screen in an ultra exclusive configuration. Invitations are rare and Chanel ambassador Kristen Stewart was the only guest during the 2020 show at the 16th-century Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, in accordance with France’s social distancing rules.

The traveling show has traveled to Shanghai, Tokyo and Monte Carlo in the past, but this year it touched down in Dakar after the Senegalese capital’s 20th fashion week. It marks both Chanel’s inaugural catwalk outing on African soil and a major moment for the country’s thriving fashion industry, which has produced brands such as Tongoro, Diarrablu and Adama Paris, led by Dakar Fashion Week founder Adama Ndiaye. In an announcement, Chanel explained how the savoir-faire of its Métiers d’Art aims to “resonate with the artistic and cultural energy of the city.” It is therefore fitting that the house staged the show in the former Palace of Justice, a historic venue that hosted this year’s Dakar Biennale, and opened with a dance choreographed by Dmitri Chamblas of the local Ecole des Sables.

Images courtesy of Chanel

For those who could not attend, the campaign does more justice than the collection. Shot by Senegalese photographer Malick Bodian and Sierra Leonean-born editor Ibrahim Kamara, it sees models Alaato Jazyper and Loli Bahia flaunting the garments near the Seine River in Paris. Among the highlights: a flower-embroidered jacket by Montex, a camellia-adorned Lesage tweed shirt by florist Lemarié, and a pleated skirt by Lognon. Creative director Virginie Viard was inspired by the unleashed energy and jubilant femininity of the 1970s “pop-soul-funk-disco-punk,” according to the show notes. “It is this warm, human dimension that motivates my work and that I try to re-transcribe,” he says. “I put my whole soul into it. These wonderful meetings that give birth to artistic adventures like this one, is what drives me.”

Chanel had been eyeing its entry into Africa for years, according to the brand’s fashion president, Bruno Pavlovsky. He recalls a conversation in Japan where brand ambassador Pharrell Williams urged then-creative director Karl Lagerfeld to consider the idea. “He asked me in awe because I don’t think a fashion house had been to that part of Africa before,” Williams said during a Chanel “master class” last month after the brand’s Cruise 2023 replica show in Miami. The pandemic delayed those plans, as did Lagerfeld’s passing, but it looks like it was worth the wait. Métiers d’Art organized a three-day cultural festival that brought together local talent through music, film and art. In January, Chanel will return to Dakar for a program focused on collaborations with local embroiderers and artisans, which will inform an exhibition organized by the brand back in Paris.

The elephant in the room, of course, is how to count on the former French occupation of Senegal, and the reality that Chanel has no stores, significant business or individual history on the continent. The fashion industry’s recent diversity blunders could also make for tricky optics if the show went awry, but Chanel seems to have pulled it off without a hitch. “This move by Chanel will not be a one-hit wonder or an opportunistic project to feed Western fashion houses with Africa’s enormous aesthetic capital,” said Oumy Diaw, a curator who attended the show. New York Times.

Pharrell seems to agree. “It’s not lost on them that this was once a French colony,” he said. “Getting there and doing the exact opposite of colonization was interesting. Because it’s not just coming there to put on a show. It is actually providing many associations. That’s unprecedented.”

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