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Chanel made history as the first luxury European brand to hold a fashion show in Sub-Saharan Africa. It introduced the Métiers d’Art collection as part of a three-day program of cultural events in Senegal’s capital.

The show was held in the Brutalist-style former Palace of Justice, which has hosted the Dakar Biennale in recent years. The show was attended by guests including Pharrell Williams, Naomi Campbell, Whitney Peak, Nile Rodgers, Princess Caroline of Monaco and her daughter Charlotte Casiraghi.

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Models walked in ’70s-inspired pantsuits, beaded vests, and skirts with geometric motifs that paid homage to the flamboyant Congo-style subculture. Wide jeans, platform shoes and layered skirts added a retro glow to the series, which was appreciated by 850 guests.

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Creative director Virginie Viard, by her own admission, had never traveled to the African continent before. But she said she was intrigued after hearing from her frequent friends and collaborators about Dakar, which has gained a reputation as a thriving arts center in recent years.

Initiated by the late Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld 20 years ago to shine a light on in-house workshops, the Métiers d’Art collection has traditionally been a traveling show, appearing in places like Shanghai, Edinburgh Scotland, Salzburg Austria and Havana Cuba.

Unlike the Chanel shows in Paris, where guests tend to wear the brand from head to toe; guests were dazzled by combining the brand’s signature quilted handbags with a blend of traditional casual wear and contemporary African fashion design.

The collection has also stood out as one of the most eclectic collections since Viard took Lagerfeld as head of the brand in 2019. Checkered tweed and Lurex trouser suits were stacked with beaded waistcoats and wrap skirts and adorned with heaps of chains, including African continent-shaped gold pendants and jewel-encrusted lion heads.

The designs were created in close collaboration with in-house suppliers such as Embroiderer Lesage and florist Lemarié. It featured many embellishments, from shimmering rhinestones on a argyle sweater to DIY-style patchwork camellias and heart-shaped patches scattered across a black vest.

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While the entire collection was produced in Paris, models included 19 African models, including a dozen from Senegal. But despite having many customers from West Africa, the brand said it was too early to open stores in the region.

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