PARIS (Reuters) - Decked out in looks fit for a pre-revolutionary banquet, dozens of models paraded elaborate Chanel styles for the fashion house's latest show, beamed out to audiences on Thursday evening from the hall of a 16th century Loire Valley chateau.
Some luxury brands, including Chanel, had tentatively returned to the catwalk with live audiences, but governments have since brought in fresh restrictions on movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic in France and elsewhere.
So the French label turned the Chateau de Chenonceau into a glamorous online showcase for its Metiers D'art collection - a display of its finest craftsmanship under designer Virginie Viard, who succeeded the late Karl Lagerfeld.
Medieval-style tunics in tweed or rich velvet populated the runway, followed by bejewelled dresses fit for Renaissance princesses. Some dresses and skirts were worn over leggings, giving styles a modern twist - with a hint of the court jester.
With a hulking fireplace behind them and beneath heavy-set chandeliers, models walked through a black and white stone hallway. The lozenge motif was echoed on gowns, including a mesh dress and a chequered black-and-white full tweed skirt.
Some styles were enhanced with fur-style trimmings on cuffs and lapels while models more elaborate pearl necklaces, and some sported heraldic symbols recalling the fleur-de-lis on knitted tops.
Since Viard took helm as Creative Director at the French brand, this collection has been her most exciting presentation. Even with commonplace inspirations, the collection was cohesively charismatic in its brisk and sublime simplicity.
American actress Kristin Stewart, one of the faces of Chanel in its advertising campaigns, looked on from inside the hall, as a lone front row spectator.
Known for its arched bridge over the River Cher, the Chateau de Chenonceau, also known as the Chateau des Dames, was shaped by the women who first lived there, including noblewoman Diane de Poitiers, royal mistress to King Henry II, and Catherine de Medici, the king's widow.