Another look at the Chanel Metier d’Art 2023-2024 show in Manchester. Story by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photo Courtesy: Chanel.
The Chanel Métiers d’Art show held in Manchester marked a significant moment for the luxury house, exemplifying its strategic efforts to connect with the public in novel ways. This event, spanning three days, was planned to intertwine Chanel’s haute couture with the cultural essence of Manchester, a city historically rooted in heavy industries but now embracing art and craftsmanship.
Under the guidance of Global CEO Leena Nair Chanel has undergone rapid and notable transformations within a relatively brief timeframe. Nair’s tenure, commencing in January 2022, has seen the brand embrace new paradigms of engagement, aligning Chanel’s values with contemporary societal and environmental concerns.
Chanel brand value and success
The success and value of a luxury brand like Chanel are not solely measured by sales figures, but by its ability to resonate with the public, drawing their interest, engagement, and participation in the brand’s narrative. In contrast to LVMH experiencing significant revenue losses, Chanel has differentiated itself by prioritizing inclusivity, cultural appreciation, and ecological consciousness in its strategic approach.
In short she increased the brand value. What is the value of the brand you ask? The value of a brand extends beyond sales figures; it predominantly rests on public interest, the desire to engage, purchase, and become part of its heritage. In contrast, LVMH’s primary brands, Louis Vuitton and Dior, experienced a substantial 53% revenue loss in 2023, attributed to strategic errors, according to the reports of LVMH and analyses. These errors stem from a growing public disenchantment with how these brands market their products, targeting a narrow audience while neglecting pressing ecological and social concerns.
Chanel Métiers d’Art show in Thomas Street of Manchester
The Métiers d’Art show in Manchester showcased Chanel’s commitment to authenticity and community involvement. By integrating elements such as a football game and a concert, the event artfully intertwined high fashion with the city’s cultural fabric, celebrating Manchester’s heritage and modern ethos.
It was planned that Chanel’s show in Manchester would pivot towards engaging a wider audience without diluting its brand essence. The event planned to underscore the brand’s ability to connect with diverse demographics while remaining authentic and culturally sensitive. Rather than relying on ostentatious tactics, Chanel’s planned to have an approach focused on fostering genuine connections and a nuanced luxury experience.
It was planned that Chanel’s conscious effort to connect with a wider audience while remaining true to its core values, fostering a meaningful and inclusive luxury experience.
But it was only a plan….
“Manchester” Looks of Chanel Metier d’Art 2023-2024
Something is rotten in the state of Chanel – protests against the Chanel show
The Chanel show, despite its glamour and celebrity attendance, was met with criticism in Manchester. The city, facing significant challenges like high homelessness rates and complex socioeconomic issues, saw a negative and somewhat protest-like response from its residents.
The concept of hosting the show in Manchester and not making it accessible to the public doesn’t holds promise and the planned strategy. Considering the prevalent local issues such as homelessness and deprivation, it might be advisable for Chanel’s organizers to approach the event differently. Implementing initiatives like a charity event to support organizations assisting the homeless or devising ways for Manchester residents to engage with the show could be constructive. Through local media observations and opinions, there appears to be a perception of intrusion, with the event seeming more like an invasion, disregarding the realities of the local community. Chanel could enhance its approach significantly when orchestrating events in these areas to better align with the community’s needs and concerns.
A local independent brand named “Drama Call” made an unexpected appearance outside the Chanel show, offering a surprise giveaway of new t-shirts. The event attracted a huge crowd, with hundreds of people eager to obtain these shirts. These t-shirts feature the Chanel CC logo typically found on graphic tees, accompanied by the words “Gentrification” and “Posh C*nts”.
This move by “Drama Call” subtly asserts its presence in the streets surrounding the Northern Quarter, aiming to convey a message to the French fashion house. By setting up outside the Chanel runway, the brand stirred another round of attention in Manchester, distributing 250 t-shirts to people and raising funds for homelessness in the city. This action served as a response to the luxury brand’s “unexpected “invasion” of the city.
The interpretation of the show sparked controversy regarding the intended strategy. Local communities and journalists characterized it as “Rich came to poor quarters to amuse themselves”.
Local artists showcased diverse expressions. Sofia Coppola’s seemingly aloof and indifferent portrayal of Manchester only fueled the surrounding protest sentiments linked to the Chanel show. Artist Hey Reilly, known for his subtle and satirical approach to Chanel, was invited by Coppola to contribute to her short film for the show. However, it appeared as though Coppola failed to grasp the satire or the “very English” dark humor embedded in Reilly’s art. Expressing his sentiments on Instagram, Reilly conveyed in his thank-you note with “Not excited about this in the SLIGHTEST!”
So this new Chanel management to get “close to the public ” and “think of people” got totally wrong in the management. Thomas Street was closed for several weeks preceding the show, disrupting local activity. Chanel also shut down nearby streets leading to Thomas Street, where the show was held. The fashion house compensated businesses forced to close during this weekend, with undisclosed payments, and required proprietors to sign nondisclosure agreements to prevent divulging details to the media.
Chanel Metier d’Art 2023-2024 Photoshot by Jamie Hawkesworth, direction by Sofia Coppola
3 weeks before the show all residents of Thomas Street received the letter with the demand to shut down their windows, dim the light, and not use their balconies during the show, as they confessed to the local press. In short, the public was not allowed to watch this private event, with stringent restrictions on movement and access to their own windows.
I was asking myself a simple question: What if one of the residents had a heart attack and needed an ambulance to come? So the access will be also forbidden for an ambulance, potentially risking someone’s life for the sake of this “private event”?
Shouldn’t luxury brand engage with the public? And Wasn’t it planned like this from the very beginning by Global CEO of Chanel? Or I was totally wrong?
Something to think about….