The Chanel show has always been a massive production. In the past, Karl Lagerfeld has transformed the Grand Palais into a supermarket, a beach complete with sand and waterfalls, and even erected an Eiffel Tower and a rocket ship. But this season, a year on from the late designer’s death, Virginie Viard paired things right back.
Guests were seated on abstract white benches surrounding the mirrored catwalk, with the designer explaining, ‘there is no frame for the show. I don’t like that which is framed.’
It’s worth noting Virginie broke the rules even further with her line up. Models walked down the runway in groups, with their arms interlinked and smiling like the best of friends, shunning the usual single file format.
The Chanel autumn/winter 20 collection was fun, fresh and insanely wearable. It had just the right amount of heritage – the tweed, the pearls, the monochrome looks – yet it was very much a departure.
In her show notes, Virginie declared she wanted ‘romanticism but without any flourishes. Emotions but without any frills,’ and that she wanted to design clothes which elicited ‘freedom, energy and absolute desire’.
She wanted to design clothes for women ‘who are as feminine as they are amazons’ and in fact drew inspiration from both Coco Chanel’s love of her racehorse and a picture of Karl dressed in a suit and riding boots.
The equestrian theme was subtle but apparent in details such as two-tone mid-calf boots, jockey silks and billowing slit jodhpurs with side buttons – only Chanel could make popper trousers look chic.
Onto the more feminine side, there were blouses adorned with feathers, fringed skirts slit at the side, edgy black lace crop tops with matching skirts and romantic off-the-shoulder gowns with puff sleeves and full skirts.
There again, Virginie mixed the old with the new. Bejewelled cross chain belts and pendants (which wouldn’t have seemed out of place on Madonna) were layered with the pearl necklaces that are synonymous with Chanel. The bags introduced a pop of colour – mainly pink – and old favourites were re-imagined in a more fun way, such as the quilted black bag worn crossbody with a pearl strap.
The standout piece
The romantic ballgown paired with a jewelled belt as seen on Kaia Gerber.