PARIS – It is still too early to tell just how far Virginie Viard will follow in the footsteps of her mentor for the past 30 years, Chanel’s iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld, but she made her first solo runway on Friday her own.
Models presented the 2019/20 cruise collection as part of an off-season offering of garments between the official Fashion Week calendars.
The Grand Palais in Paris, which is often used by the fashion house as a backdrop to its shows, was decked out as a 20th century railway station that featured wooden train cars, tracks and luxurious carriages where guests were invited to breakfast before the show.
The idea had been one of Lagerfeld’s. Besides transforming the space into a station, the legendary designer had also proposed a space station – complete with a spacecraft – a supermarket, a paradisiacal beach and a ski station as possible scenarios in which to present the brand’s clothing.
About 100 models unveiled Viard’s latest creations, which were somehow simpler, lighter and more functional than those of “the Kaiser.”
It might be too early to give a verdict as cruise collections are particularly light, but the range could signal a nod to the changes the brand will be introducing with Viard’s personality.
The models showed off cotton raincoats and unstructured duster coats, wide-legged trousers and straight pique jackets, some guests were quick to recall the fluid figures of the brand’s founder, Coco Chanel.
Trouser suits, white blouses with ruffled necks, Coco’s famous black and white combination and the versatile straight dresses that came in to replace the corset as part of her mission to free women featured in the collection.
Skirts were on the mini side, teamed with ballet pumps, and a bit of height came in a series of leather boots with a slight point in two-tone black and white, offering a 1970s cowboy look.
The runway wrapped up with a long black dress with a high white collar in an apparent nod to the style that Lagerfeld will be remembered for.
Viard herself, wearing black in a sign of mourning, came out to greet the guests as is customary at Chanel’s runways.
Among those present at the show were some important muses, including actress Ali MacGraw, known for her role in the 1970 movie “Love Story.”
MacGraw began her career as a model, posing for “Chanel No 5” perfume, which opened the door to Hollywood for her. At 80, she has returned to the brand for the launch of its new J12 watch line.