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.

Nouvelle Vague. Chanel SS20

The first model who opened Chanel‘s spring-summer 2020 show, Maike Inga, looked like Jean Seberg from Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless film with her blond pixie-cut and long-sleeved, red tweed dress. Other models had their hair undone and seemed to be make-up free. The collection’s faux setting – a stereotypically Parisian rooftop landscape with dove grey sky in the background – added up to the mood of French New Wave (‘La Nouvelle Vague’) mood. Virginie Viard‘s first ready-to-wear collection for the brand feels like a Parisian postcard, but comparing to Karl Lagerfeld’s emphasis on creating memorable moments, it’s much more low-key. There’s something comforting about her take on Chanel: it’s simple, not show-y and far from any sorts of excess. At some point, the line-up made you yawn with its monotony – too many nearly identical tweed mini-dresses and Chanel logo prints. The eveningwear lacks spark and excitement as well. My favourite look was the most casual one: a breton stripe top, a matching jacket, high-rise denim pants and flats. Very Chanel. But I wonder whether Viard’s easy, approachable and at times flat vision for Chanel will do.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Best Looks from AW19 Couture…


The library lounge venue at Chanel and models walking to Portishead’s forever intriguing ‘Glory Box’…

While in overall the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture had more mehs (Daniel Roseberry’s overcharged debut at Schiaparelli, the chaos at Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior…) than yeahs, I still managed to find a few looks that really, really won it. And, of course Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino utterly stole my heart, but on that in a separate post. So, here are the three most gorgeous outfits I took notice of this season (again, except for Valentinoooo!).

This Viktor & Rolf look is like a Marc Chagall painting, in all of its aspects: from the paint-like texture of the felt material to the witchy, oneiric aura surrounding it. I call this art-and-coven couture.

Virginie Viard‘s debut couture collection at Chanel first felt like a snooze to me. But then I grasped its point: the beauty in regal. It’s just so rare in today’s fashion. The look worn by Sara Grace Wallerstedt – a pleated, high-collar, sleeveless shirt and a mustard skirt – is pure elegance.

With Clare Waight Keller, one season is a miss, another is a success. The autumn-winter 2019 couture outing was her best one yet. She has let some drama to Givenchy. The velvet, black dress with a lowered crinoline is so refined and sharp. So chic, yet in a way… disturbing? That’s the spirit of noblesse radicale.

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Virginie Viard. Chanel Resort 2020

While the MET Gala stole the spotlight from the last few days, it would be great pity to forget about Chanel‘s resort 2020 collection, the first solely designed under Virginie Viard‘s direction. As Karl Lagerfeld would say, the beat goes on, and the brand is moving on after the death of its visionary designer. But I think it’s in good hands – Viard was the closest person to Karl, and understands the brand like no one else. Changes from the Lagerfeld repertoire were subtle, but meaningful. First, the venue. Travel was very much on Virginie’s mind, so Grand Palais was temporarily changed into an elegant train station, with a Belle Epoque café, potted palms and so on. Still, the setting wasn’t as show-stopping as the ones Karl did – which suggests that Viard wants to bring the focus on the clothes. Second, the clothes. They felt… real. A trench coat. Easy-in-approach cardigans with Chanel chains and voluminous pants Coco Chanel would love to wear herself. Jackie-Kennedy-inspired vacation looks. Even the eveningwear seemed to be more approachable. This was a 24/7 wardrobe fit not for a risk-taker, but a self-aware woman with big money in her wallet. Well, that’s Chanel. And Viard delivered this. Let’s see what she bring to the table in in near future.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Farewell, Karl. Chanel AW19

Chalet Camelia. Winter wonderland. Houndstooth coats and tweed hats. Luxe knits and eternal CC logo. Snowball skirts and Choupette fluffiness. Penelope Cruz, Cara Delevigne, Adesuwa, Maria Carla Boscono, Mica Arganaraz, Kaia Gerber, Anna Ewers, Adut Akech and the Chanel girls. Thousand of tears dropped, from Michel Gaubert’s minute of silence to the model’s finale walk (some couldn’t hold the tears). But you surely know all this.

I doubt Karl Lagerfeld would want his last show to be a fussy, overemotional event. His last show was exactly how he planned it to be: as if it was his next collection for Chanel, another fantasy. “Oh! It’s like walking in a painting!” Farewell to the visionnaire, the most prolific, joyous, assertive and energetic designer the world has known, whether you agree with this or not. But those are facts. What will next seasons look and feel like without him? I’ve got no idea. It seemed like he was always there. On the show’s invitation there was Lagerfeld’s last illustration, captioned: “the beat goes on!“. He wanted it to go on, so let’s all look forward to Virgine Viard’s future for Chanel.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.