Chanel’s Spring-Summer 2020 Ready-to-Wear show at Paris Fashion Week (PFW) was highly anticipated for many reasons. First, the collection is the first from the brand’s new creative director, Virginie Viard, following Karl Lagerfeld’s passing in February. Second, Chanel has maintained its reputation for being one of the most respected and honored fashion houses in the world and always kicks off the last day of PFW. The show took place at the Grand Palais in The Champs-Élysées. For every PFW show, the set is drastically different but meticulously executed. The set up this year included a runway replicating the classic zinc rooftops, appearing as a metaphor for the brand moving on without Karl.
The show opened with a model in a tweed, romper-style suit jacket inspired look, followed by models dressed in deep-V blazers and patterned co-ords. Not to be missed were the logo buttons adorning most of the looks as well as the classic Chanel ballet flats — the perfect shoe to show homage to Chanel’s history but not take away from the detailed clothing. While initially the show might strike as underwhelming, once focus is placed on the artistry of the designs, a true appreciation for creativity and individual style results.
The runway looks emphasized Chanel’s classic tweed designs, as well as short-shorts, tulle and heavily accessorized looks remnant of Madonna in the ’80s. Viard’s designs represent the modern working woman, in both their beauty and functionality. This sentiment echoes Coco Chanel’s beginning work when she started designing suits for the Parisian working woman in the early 1900s. According to an Oct. 1 Vogue article, Virginie claimed that “she’d drawn a connection between the rooftop scenery and the ‘atmosphere of the Nouvelle Vague’—the French New Wave cinema of the 1950s and 1960s, famous for portraying young actresses in the honest light of real life.” The models were all fresh-faced, and their hair was styled naturally in a fresh blowout. Across the runway walked the likes of Kaia Gerber, Grace Elizabeth and Gigi Hadid, who was perhaps noticed more for her efforts to escort a prankster-influencer off the runway that disrupted the show during the finale, than anything else.
Especially notable was the layered costume jewelry, dripping in pearls, crystals and edgy silver chains. Viard did not forget to include the iconic Chanel belt in chain-link styles as well as the classic leather belt, shown in a myriad of colors, finished with the statement double-C logo in the center. Throughout the show, Viard’s balance between chic, classic pieces, and playful designs and colors was made clear through vibrant pink knits and matching sets adorned with sequins. One of the most stand-out looks was a matching denim shirt and pants duo, Chanel’s version of a “Canadian tuxedo.” The jacket had billowing sleeves, with lines of white ruffles running across the entire piece. On the left lapel lied a bright pink flower, adding just enough extra detail to complement the simple denim pants.
Regardless of the visual differences between pieces, the show flowed beautifully and elegantly, in typical Chanel fashion. As a whole, the models represented a notable amount of racial and ethnic diversity, but like most shows during fashion week, body-size inclusivity was still lacking. This, unfortunately, is a concept that will take a bit of time to be implemented into major fashion houses’ presentations. Navigating how to operate Chanel post-Karl is a difficult feat, but it is a challenge that Viard is clearly capable of moving through. Viard’s ability to connect to the 21st century woman shines brightest in this show. Overall, Chanel met its usual high standards in a new way, by demonstrating how less is more. The balance between simplicity and intricate detail let the beauty of Chanel shine.