“The world was hers for the reading”
Betty Smith, author.
To attend a CHANEL show is a gift of eternal surprise. Each fashion season the Grand Palais in the heart of Paris temporarily transforms from beloved architectural treasure, to a dream world that only CHANEL could create, always unexpected and breathtaking.
Walking towards the venue my fellow guests and I smile as we make wild guesses about what set design this season will encompass; recent shows have seen us walk through the doors to find a beaux-arts style train station, an autumn forest and a beach complete with lapping waves. Did the invitation this season share any clues for us to decipher? Has anyone found hints in the city since we have arrived? That’s the magic of CHANEL, the show hasn’t yet started, but the experience has already begun.
We enter to find an atmosphere that is calm and serene, with light streaming in through the glass ceiling of the Grand Palais, warming us as we find our seats in a beautiful grand circular library. A world away from the busy avenue just outside the doors, and the crowds walking along the Seine on a beautiful summer morning in Paris. The library setting itself is sewn into CHANEL history, this set inspired by Gabrielle Chanel’s book collection at her apartment in Rue Gambon, a tribute to Karl Lagerfelds famous floor to ceiling library in his home, and Virginie Viards’ vision realised as an eternal book lover herself.
For me personally, this moment is particularly special as this is my very first Haute Couture show, a milestone in which I am in very good company, that of Miss Virginie Viard. For her very first Couture collection, Virginie ‘dreamt about a woman with nonchalant elegance and a fluid and free silhouette’. She was true to her word.
Soft, breezy, pyjama inspired looks, robe style dresses and wide cut trousers slinked through the runway paired with bow adorned loafers and pumps. The models looked perfectly at home in the setting, it would have come as no surprise to find them curled up on the wing chairs for a night of quiet reading.
As we know, the true heroine of the CHANEL story is tweed, and in Virginie’s book this iconic character is blazing a new path… Powerful in the form of dramatic floor length gowns and finding a fresh silhouette in bomber style jackets, crops and boleros. Rounded sleeves abound perfectly mixing the look so loved by Gabrielle Chanel, with the fearless modern woman. As each looked floated by, even the heavier suiting seemed soft as butter, such was the quality and tailoring which were on full display.
As a whole, the collection has a sense of calm and peace, but with the divine artisanship that is exclusive to Couture. Textured lace, silk tulle and individually crafted feathers, paired with intricate embroidery to create a colourful dreamscape where fluidity of movement is the queen, while perfectly ruffled and layered collars and cuffs added a historical touch.
When one speaks of CHANEL the conversation is steeped in rich history, I find it wonderfully fitting that Virginie Viard is leading the way forward, a woman whose own history is so closely intertwined with CHANEL.
The Fall-Winter 2019/20 Haute Couture Collection is a beautiful continuation of the CHANEL that we have long adored, but Virginie Viard is writing a book of her own – a story of who the CHANEL woman is, but also, who the CHANEL woman can be. As with every literary classic, this book has a beginning and a middle, but the end is many long chapters away and I’m certainly happy to keep turning the page… x
My eternal thanks to the beautiful CHANEL Australia team for having me.. x