31 Rue Cambon. Chanel Pre-Fall 2020

Virginie Viard takes Chanel to its (at times clichée) codes. Viard titled her Métiers d’Art show “Paris 31 rue Cambon” for the street where Coco Chanel first set up shop as a milliner in 1910 (“Chanel Modes” at Number 21), and where she later expanded her fashion empire to embrace six additional 18th-century buildings, with her legendary haute couture salons at Number 31. The guests sat inside of Coco’s legendary apartment, XXL-scaled and set up in Grand Palais (there was even the famous mirrored staircase). “I adore the apartment,” Viard said backstage, and she evidently found inspiration in this setting where Chanel retreated from the running of her house and entertained friends. The designer described the collection as “the things we like, a mix of Karl and Chanel—the codes.” Of course, comparing to Lagerfeld’s globe-trotting Méters d’Art fairy-tales – think Moscow, Edinburgh, Texas, the Met in New York – seeing Viard show in Paris felt quite unamusing. Nevertheless, the collection was properly Chanel – elegant, refined, refreshingly minimal, yet far from modesty. The pre-fall collections of Chanel showcase the incredible work of the luxury suppliers of the fashion industry – embroiderers, feather and artificial flower makers, milliners, custom shoemakers – many of which Chanel has acquired to keep them operational and the skills alive. Viard, who directed the Chanel studio under Lagerfeld for decades, has a fine appreciation of what these ateliers are capable of. A bolero jacket with broad feathers overprinted with a shadowy pattern of Chanel’s iconic camellias; a feather blazer worked into a subtle trompe l’oeil plaid; eveningwear kept in the most gorgeous, sorbet ombré colour palette… delightful. Viard proves once again that her Chanel takes a slower approach, one that cherishes the timeless classics and the artisan work. Less Instagram moments, more beauty in the details.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Wise Layering. Givenchy Pre-Fall 2020

Utility, tailoring, glamour, chic – Clare Waight Keller‘s pre-fall 2020 collection for Givenchy has it all. One of Waight Keller’s strengths has always been her woman’s understanding of “lived” fashion – the wisdom accumulated by a designer who has to make sense of her own wardrobe, 24/7. Endless round of packing, traveling, and quick changes of clothes is familiar to every woman who has a professional life (and not only). In this collection, she’s taken an intelligent approach to tackling the silliness of one-wear evening dressing by suggesting, for example, how a very French, Givenchy-esque black dress with gold buttons on one shoulder can be worn over a pair of tuxedo pants. Or again, how those same trousers can go under a short, strapless tailored dress to create a chic tunic look. Other than the “smartness” behind the line-up, the designer took some first steps towards an enviroinment-focused approach for Givenchy. The collection uses permeable fabrics, some of which are organic and recycled. Sustainability is “very much top of mind” for her. One of the ways she’s tackling the issue is by aiming to build more versatility and longevity into her collections. “We need to wear our clothes for longer. It’s the throwaway aspect [of fashion] which is destructive. So the thought process, particularly in women’s, is to have a quieter sense of permanence. And I like the idea that so many of the pieces can be relayered.” In case of this one particular collection, the mission is well completed.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Between Morocco and California. Saint Laurent Resort 2020

The theme behind Anthony Vaccarello‘s resort 2020 line-up for Saint Laurent is parallel to his spring-summer menswear show staged on one of Malibu’s beaches. For both, Vaccarello had been thinking about how Morocco’s glittering hippie/boho enclaves of the late ’60s and early ’70s (distinctly Yves) are mirrored by the today’s free-spirited California. So, a black velvet smoking jacket, worn with a long black leather skirt with a fastening running down its front; a gold sequin lace camisole with white jeans; a pleated lurex skirt styled with boots, a barely-there tank-top and a big, heavy pendant… in terms of fashion, there’s nothing innovative (or even fresh) in Vaccarello’s “day-to-day” vision of a wardrobe. It nods to Yves’ eternal chic, yes, feels very California, yes, but in the end it still  looks like Hedi Slimane’s work for the house from the (not so distant) past. Really, how do clients choose between a denim, maxi-lenght skirt from Slimane’s Celine offering, and a nearly identical one with a Saint Laurent tag?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Never Nostalgic. Azzedine Alaïa SS20

We try always try to have something that relates to our history, without being dated or nostalgic – Mr. Alaïa was never nostalgic,” said Caroline Fabre Bazin, Azzedine’s longtime right arm, during the spring-summer 2020 presentation for the maison. The look-book is a classic homage to the couturier’s outstanding oeuvre. One of the designer’s most iconic pieces, the perfecto, appeared in the collection few times, being the season’s key item. “He would always say ‘yes, okay’ and then he’d change everything, because he hated repeating himself,” said Fabre Bazin. “Practically from the beginning, he made them every season: short, long, with zip, without, in python, leather, denim; every time it was different.” This season, an early, pre-2000 biker jacket returns in Japanese denim or in python. Other throwbacks: a polka dot faille trench or a denim peacoat from summer 1992 (a nod to the Tati exhibition currently on show at the Association Azzedine Alaïa). The bow theme may nod to a collection from 2010, signature studs may return via 3D printing, a technical silk organza may be embroidered with an archival motif and then used on a different silhouette, or a print from 1991 may find fresh relevance on different materials – the studio working under the name of the master reinvents, revisits, reworks. Ultimately, “then” fuses with “now”. The Alaïa atelier has all it needs to keep shining for years to come.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.