From the minute hometown girl Karen Elson closed Chanel’s Metiers d’Art show in Manchester to rousing cheers from the audience—just as the ever-cool, ever-fab Kristen Stewart, sitting beside Charlotte Casiraghi, downed the contents of her traditional British pub pint mug—it was time to start the post-show celebrations. Getting there involved a quick-ish whizz to the city’s southside to the Victorian Baths, a lavishly restored swimming pool complex from the 19th century. The rest of the evening was a reminder that few ever party quite like Chanel. The house understands the three tenets of a great night: Keep it fun, keep it quirky, and keep the delicious cocktails and food you can inhale (in this case, versions of classic Brit cuisine: fish and chips, smoked salmon, beef stew, et al) coming and coming and coming.
Three sprawling rooms had three very distinctive vibes: the drained pool area played host to local lass DJ Afrodeutsche, with intriguingly a set up behind her for a band to take the stage any minute now (more later); another was set up like some decadent 19th-century lounge, as if Manchester’s founding fathers back in the 1800s had all been listening to EDM; while the last had chillout areas and was, when I dropped by, playing host to pierced and tatted artist/performer Jennifer Reid singing local historic folk songs with a fabulous punky vigor. Caroline de Maigret walked by looking as gorgeously louche as ever in a mannish camel coat, photographer Jamie Hawkesworth was chatting about how he’d come to Manchester to cast local people for his images of the Metiers d’Art collection, and Hugh Grant was posing for a picture in one of pool’s olde worlde changing booths.
Before long, punk poet legend John Cooper Clarke took to the stage in the pool room to introduce the band Primal Scream, whose guitar rock-goes-trance dance back in the early ’90s was one of the defining sounds of the Madchester era. Singer Bobby Gillespie launched into a soaring/grinding version of “Movin’ On Up” from the band’s Screamadelica album, then “Come Together” (be still my beating heart and pounding ears), then “Loaded”…all the while, projections of Gillespie and his band projected onto the lovingly restored Victorian tiled walls. It’s hard to imagine that any of the pool’s swimmers back in the day could have ever imagined such a sight, but as Metiers d’Art showed, there are always ways to see Manchester in a new light.
See VIP moments from the night, below.