Following its decision to ban animal pelts, the French house debuted its Métiers d'Art 2018 collection at The Met’s Temple of Dendur.
On the eve of Chanel’s 2018 Métiers d’Art show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the French fashion house announced it will stop using exotic animal skins and fur. Never one to put the limitations of physical materials before aesthetics, Chanel used the collection to feature its artisanal abilities. As the first major luxury fashion brand to ban animal pelts such as lizard, crocodile, and snake skins, Chanel has set a precedent for the upper echelons of the fashion industry.
The timely announcement came the day before Chanel’s annual Métiers d’Art show, an annual pre-fall extravaganza honoring Chanel’s artisan partners and showcasing the finer details of its collections. This is the third time Métiers d’Art has been held in New York but the first to take place in the Met.
Despite all the rumors that this year’s show would be a homage to New York and the city’s historical relationship with Coco herself, The Met’s Temple of Dendur set the scene for an Ancient Egyptian-inspired collection. Models’ legs were emblazoned with gold leaf and their eyes rimmed with heavy black liner à la Cleopatra, while the show used feathers, embroidery, and sophisticated tweed to bring an ancient civilization to life.
After turning its back on lizard and crocodile skins, Chanel will now be looking to the agri-food industry to an effort to find the next generation of luxury materials. The reasons seem to be two-fold. The first is that it’s becoming increasingly costly to source the animal skins, and the second is ethical. In an era of technical possibility, and increasing innovation in the fashion industry specifically, Chanel is embracing change.
Speaking to Women’s Wear Daily, Karl Lagerfeld explained that the house will still put fabric first. “The future of high-end products will come from the know-how of what our atelier is able to do,” he said. Animal rights group PETA was quick to claim the decision as a victory for its years of lobbying, but Lagerfeld pre-empted the assertion, and cleared up any misgivings: “We did it because it’s in the air, but it’s not an air people imposed to us. It’s a free choice.”