Ecstatic Encounters: The Unforgettable Impact of Chanel’s Arrival in Manchester

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Manchester, nestled in the undulating hills of northwest England, has long been renowned for its blend of resilient character and cultural brilliance. It stands as the rain-soaked birthplace of the Northern soul movement and the iconic sounds of bands like Joy Division, New Order, and Oasis. Notably, it boasts two globally acclaimed soccer clubs, carries the legacy of the industrial revolution, and pulsates with one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes worldwide. Despite its abundant style and self-assurance, this proud city hasn’t historically been associated with high fashion.

However, perceptions underwent a seismic shift as Chanel seized the spotlight for its Métiers d’Art runway show in Manchester. Traditionally hosted in various locales like Salzburg, Rome, and Dakar, this annual showcase spotlights the intricate craftsmanship of Chanel’s specialized ateliers. In a departure from its usual glamorous settings, this year’s event unfolded on the rain-drenched Thomas Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The neighborhood, lined with tattoo parlors, pubs, vintage clothing stores, and record shops, played host to 600 guests who braved the inclement weather, taking their seats amidst candlelight under a purpose-built Perspex roof. Notable celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Tilda Swinton, and Hugh Grant added to the star-studded ambiance, while many sought warmth in hot toddies to combat the cold.

While Manchester might not have radiated the opulence and grandeur typically associated with Chanel’s past venues, the city’s allure lies not in its somber architecture, remnants of its erstwhile textile and cotton industries. Instead, it thrives in the vibrant spirit and creative energy coursing through its narrow streets.

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“We wanted this show to take place in England, but not in London, which felt too expected,” remarked Chanel president Bruno Pavlovsky. Reflecting on the city’s dynamic arts, music, and football culture, he expressed how Manchester’s vibrant ethos had deeply influenced the collection, resonating with the creative director Virginie Viard’s vision.

Chanel’s connection to places integral to its founder, Coco Chanel, is a recurring theme. The family estate of her 1920s lover, the Duke of Westminster, was situated in nearby Cheshire, where Coco worked on her designs and sourced materials from local factories. The tweed jackets worn by English aristocrats during outdoor pursuits at Eaton Hall became a cornerstone of her fashion legacy.

This week’s Chanel show in Manchester centered around tweed, paying homage to the city’s heritage. Against a backdrop of pulsating tunes from Soft Cell, New Order, and Cilla Black (ironically from Liverpool), the collection unfolded with modish nods to the 1960s. Smart tweed skirt suits in vivid hues like acid green, fuchsia, orange, and yellow were paired with matching baker boy caps and Mary Janes. As the show progressed, hemlines rose, and knitwear in coordinated patterns took the spotlight, complemented by chunky scarves snugly encircling the models’ necks.