Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s Texan roots were sprouted in the most implausible of ways. A fashion show held in her honour where cows were cast as models, taking to a makeshift catwalk spread across a Dallas ranch. One mule, in particular, had the pleasure of being draped in pearls, uncanny in similarity to the one’s made famous by the designer herself. The show was a welcoming gift from Stanley Marcus, who, in 1957 presented Chanel with the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. Fast-forward almost half a century and the luxury house are back to honour those roots, by pinpointing the US city as the latest location for the Métiers d’Art show, which presented yesterday at the city’s exhibition center, the Dallas Fair Park.
Following in the footsteps of previous locations – Tokyo, London, New York – who have played host to the the annual show, the event maps out the global milestones integral to Chanel’s life and career, culminating in the celebration of the the work of 11 couture workshops, who are part of a subsidiary of the House of Chanel. The ateliers are applauded as integral to the lifeline of couture, and include a glove maker, a milliner, an embroidery company, a button and costume jewellery maker and a shoe cobbler, amongst others. Each year, the collections – this year saw white feather head-dresses, long prairie-style skirts and embroidered bodices – and the set-design – think vintage Cadillacs, hay bales and wooden beams threaded in Americana bunting – honour the chosen city, with pieces landing in stores in May.
The opening of the event was marked by the premiere of Karl Lagerfeld’s latest film for the house, The Return, written and directed by Lagerfeld himself, and starring Geraldine Chaplin. The 30-minute film was inspired by the three years before Chanel’s visit to Dallas, when in 1954 she re-opened her couturier after a 15-year closure resulting from the war. While the opening collection received scathing criticism from European press, it was positively celebrated in the US, particularly in Dallas by Marcus, whose luxury store brought the entire collection shortly before initiating Chanel as an honorary Texan with her very first barbecue.