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Manchester does Chanel: Virginie Viard presents a modish Métier d’Arts collection

Karen Elson walks in the Chanel Métier d’Arts 2023-24 show (Chanel)
Karen Elson walks in the Chanel Métier d’Arts 2023-24 show (Chanel)

There was no Gail Platt, but last night Chanel brought Manchester’s Northern Quarter to a glamorous standstill — in spite of the incessant rain — as it presented its Métier d’Arts collection in the city. It was a feat of levelling up that the government can but dream of.

Having paid off the stores (one, a reported £47,000) along Thomas Street to shut (including a tattoo parlour, stationers and bar offering loaded fries) guests perched on pub picnic tables and bar stools to watch the show.

Anna Elisabet Eberstein, from left, Hugh Grant and Tilda Swinton attend the Chanel Metiers d’Art show in Manchester Thursday (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP/PA) (AP)
Anna Elisabet Eberstein, from left, Hugh Grant and Tilda Swinton attend the Chanel Metiers d’Art show in Manchester Thursday (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP/PA) (AP)

Kristen Stewart, Jenna Coleman, Sofia Coppola, Alexa Chung, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, reluctant oompa loompa Hugh Grant and Tilda Swinton attended alongside Gene and Lennon Gallagher (wrong generation, right family — but even Chanel couldn’t bring Liam and Noel back together) Jeannette Winterson and the poet John Cooper Clarke.

The day before Clark had regaled Chanel’s guests, while they snacked on Scampi fries, in the basement of the Ol Peste Destroyed a bookshop cum cafe in Ancoats. His verses — on Farah trousers and what to avoid when wearing suede shoes — were perhaps not the usual Chanel fare. But the house founded by Coco Chanel in 1910 took its guests (VIPs travelled in a private carriage on the Avanti mainline service) right into the heart of Manchester’s cultural legacy. A Peter Saville designed magazine along with a record featuring Electronic and New Order were left in attendees rooms along with a box of PG tips and Chanel MCR branded mug and scarf.

Kristen Stewart (Getty Images)
Kristen Stewart (Getty Images)

The full experiential immersion also included a city tour complete with Vimto tasting and the Manchester United V Chelsea game on Wednesday night. Old Trafford was treated to the sight of Chanel tweed clad punters on the terraces, accessorised with Man U beanie hats and the personalised shirts the brand had gifted each guest. Thrilled, they shouted “Allez, Allez” at Scott McTominay’s double; “Ee iz shouting 'you fat bastad'” explained another.

Old Trafford was treated to the sight of Chanel tweed clad punters on the terraces, accessorised with Man U beanie hats and the personalised shirts the brand had gifted each guest.

But the powerhouse which was Cottonopolis, the world’s first industrialised city, is having somewhat of a resurgence. The recently opened Aviva Studios Factory International, the immense new arts and cultural centre (Johnny Marr is currently playing) builds on the legacy of the Manchester International Festival; Soho House will open an outpost in the same old Granada TV complex next year; the city is teaming with London escapees.

Chanel’s connections to Manchester and British manufacturing in general are showcased in the current V&A exhibition; in the early Thirties she worked with factories in the North, and used Manchester velvet in her collections. Chanel’s Métier D’Arts shows (which focus on the intense artisan craft of the house) travel to a new city each year; last year it was in Dakar, Senegal. The last British Chanel show was in Edinburgh in 2012.

Artistic director Virginie Viard’s collection was a showcase of its signature Linton tweed suits — this time rendered in popping colours — from acid green, fuchsia pink, tangy mustard, red and pumpkin orange — and took a modish cue from the Sixties.

Lennon Gallagher (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Lennon Gallagher (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Oversized baker boy caps, Teddy boy styling, Mary Janes and knee high socks gave a vintage British rock and roll feel. Models, including Oldham born Karen Elson and Edie Campbell, walked to a soundtrack featuring Soft Cell, New Order and Cilla Black’s Anyone Who Had a Heart (does anyone have the heart to tell them she’s Scouse?).

Whimsical tea-cup embroidery and intarsia knits, multi-colour knitted vests and matching beanie hats and scarfs added more Brit-tinged touches. After she had taken her bow, Ms Viard popped back into The Bay Horse tavern. Post show, guests headed to the Victoria Baths where Primal Scream played a private set.

Karen Elson (Chanel)
Karen Elson (Chanel)

In the words of Henry Holland’s specially commissioned slogan: Well well well, if it isn’t Manchester does Chanel.