“I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” reveals Virginie Viard. The Chanel creative director recalls with fondness the Paris Eighties haunt that was one of the most mythic, drawing the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Farida Khelfa and Christian Louboutin, but also Karl Lagerfeld. “With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel. Karl would go to ‘Le Palace,’ he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed up women, who were very eccentric too,” she recalls.
If the Spring 2020 Couture collection flaunted the rigor of the Aubazine abbey, where Gabrielle Chanel faced her earliest years, this Chanel Couture Fall 2020 collection marked an about-face. Turning the dial on strict sobriety, models photographed by Scandinavian photographer Mikael Janssen stared down the camera in opulent shimmer. “I like working like this,” continued Viard, going in the opposite direction of what I did last time. I wanted complexity, sophistication.”
The embroideries, courtesy of Métiers d’art houses Lesage and Montex, but also Lemarié and Gooosens embellished tweeds with sequins, strass, stones, and beads. The braiding is diamond-like, adorning ink black trouser suits. Black and gray anthracite tones are accentuated with punk pink while laces are painted to highlight bolero jackets with tweeds made of silver-streaked ribbon. The short dress with cinched waists and corolla skirts were featured alongside long dresses, which, the notes alluded offered the allure and the noble authority of heroines escaping from 19th century tableaux. “It’s true that I thought about paintings, but it was more German paintings,” says Virginie Viard.“I really had Karl’s world in mind…For me, Haute Couture is romantic by its very essence. There is so much love in each one of these silhouettes.”