The final day of Paris Fashion Week is colloquially known as Chanel Day. That's in part because Chanel is one of the biggest names on the entire Fashion Month calendar, and also because Karl Lagerfeld, the late designer who served as creative director of the brand for nearly 20 years, was a master of showmanship. His sets for Chanel were fantastical: Lagerfeld showed the label's Cruise '08 collection at the Santa Monica Airport, where a Chanel-themed private jet was parked on the runway. For his final season in Fall 2019, he transported guests to the Swiss Alps, complete with snow-covered dunes. But Virginie Viard, who officially took the helm following Lagerfeld's death in early 2019, is showing that she's not trying to fill his shoes; instead, with Chanel's Fall 2020 runway collection, Viard presented her own version of the brand: grounded, glamorous, youthful, and unapologetically modern.
Upon entrance to the Grand Palais on the March 3 show, guests were directed to scan a QR code that leads to a minute-long video of the fall collection, featuring model Margaret Qualley and Rianne van Rompaey walking to and fro, nuzzling each other along a bridge. The video, shot by Inez and Vinoodh, is an homage to sisterhood and female love, a theme that was carried throughout the show.
“A very simple, very pure momentum," Virginie Viard said in a release. "Romanticism but without any flourishes. Emotions but without any frills. Movement, air... For the runway show, no frame. I don’t like framing.”
The show was presented on minimalist set made to evoke the River Seine. Still, not one to stray from house codes, Viard presented an array of boxy bouclé separates — sometimes in the of-the-moment color pistachio, and later as a double-breasted coat with nothing layered beneath.
There were voluminous gigot sleeve tops and lace collars and over-the-top Byzantine-era jewelry. (One sweater evoked Vogue's iconic 1988 cover, Anna Wintour's first, in a nod to updating the past.) A select few skirt suits enjoyed a scalloped-edge update; others had a thigh-high slit to evoke youth.
Each look was styled with brown-and-black fold-over seven-league boots grounding every look in the collection, a nod to a 1980s-era photo of Lagerfeld himself.
Models were sometimes paired up, chit-chatting down the runway to evoke a more casual era of Chanel. In the opening iteration, one model wore a Chanel signature: a tweed skirt suit. The other, wore a tweed cardigan, but it was paired with a snap-away tracked pants with press-stud closures, a style of pant that Viard would call "jodhpurs" in the show notes. This was the first hint that she imagines the Chanel customer is also downtown.
Through the collection, Viard made one thing clear. She is, of course, is honored to carry on Karl's legacy, but don't be mistaken: She's carving one out for herself, too.