Chanel held its Cruise 2020 show this morning in Paris. It was the first collection produced without the creative direction of Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away in February. Virginie Viard — Lagerfeld’s right had, who had worked with the designer in various capacities for 30 — was immediately named his successor. If it didn’t feel like a natural choice then, one only needs to see her first solo outing to be reassured that this is the same Chanel we know.
Of course, the familiarity might have been inevitable. Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president, recently gave an interview explaining how Karl’s vision was so specific, it set the house up to easily continue his vision beyond his reign. “Virginie is aware that she must write a new chapter for the house, and who better to do it than her, as she is coming from a place of continuity to perhaps add a little something to Karl’s work over these last few years,” he told WWD. “Karl has left us both a challenge and a real gift… the brand is strong, the house codes are strong. Whether consciously or unconsciously, he perfectly prepared Virginie, the house and the team to take on this new phase.”
Indeed, all of Karl’s codes — and Coco Chanel’s before him — were present. Two-toned booties and pumps, the interlocking “C” logo, and the label’s iconic tweed jacket came down the runway in all colors, sizes, and forms. There is a particular boxy-yet-flowing silhouette, and campy-yet-classic aesthetic that the house has particularly become known for over the past 10 years, and it was ever present on the runway here.
Viard took inspiration from Parisian train stations, evoking the mood of a traveller stepping off a train. The practical, almost utilitarian, wares certainly work well for women on the go. The array of trousers, shorts, and modest skirts allow for an ease of movement not usually present on luxury runways.
If there was one thing that was noticeably different about the collection from previous seasons was that it was quite subdued. Rather than throwing herself into the collection’s theme, Viard went for a more subtle approach, interpreting train stations through quiet details like station clocks made out of lace. But there was one excellent moment of overt symbolism. The final three looks of the show, all evening gowns, featured high white collars, the kind that was worn — and will forever be associated with — Lagerfeld himself.
See every look from the show below.