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Chanel Enters A New Era With Trains, Bows and A Great Sense of Ease

Virginie Viard also pays a subtle tribute to Karl Lagerfeld with the show's closing look. Here, all you need to know from Chanel's Cruise 2020 show.

At Chanel’s Cruise spectacle on Friday morning, hearts were full. Well, bellies, too, as the house had taken upon itself to serve show attendees breakfast, à la Parisienne. A spread of croissants, madeleines and smoked salmon was had at a “restaurant” modelled after the famous Le Train Bleu in Paris before all were directed to the sprawling ground floor of the Grand Palais. 

But, back to the full hearts.

This season, Chanel’s fabled show space was transformed into a train platform dotted with signs that read Saint Tropez, Venice, Rome and Istanbul. With the strike of a station clock and the blow of a whistle by Chanel’s own station master, the show – the first in a post-Lagerfeld era – began.

The opening looks were decidedly Gabrielle Chanel: three-piece suits with cropped, wide-legged pants, so reminiscent of what she would wear back in her day. These weren’t meant to be ultra-sharp, though. In fact, if we had to use one word to describe Virginie Viard’s first solo collection for Chanel, it would be “ease”. Even the baggy leather pants, which ranged from red to pastel purple, and the leather boiler suit looked buttery soft and so comfortable.

Travel, whether by train or plane, seemed very much on Viard’s mind, along with a great sense of what the traveller finds comfortable and – word of the day – easy. There were oversized coats, roomy travel bags of tweed and quilted denim, water bottle carriers, jackets with seemingly endless rows of pockets for all those boarding tickets, light-as-air dresses of layers and ruffles, and redeye-ready second-skin pants. (Hey, if you’re going to board the plane in tights, why not make them Chanel?)

The sixties made a surprising appearance in the form oversized bow crop tops, done with a form of elegance that only Chanel can master, and the shoe of the season – white leather sock boots with wraparound ankle cuffs and black toe-caps. (These will be snapped up in a Parisian minute, you’ll see.) The eighties were there, too, surfacing in the punchy colours and faded oversized denim.

Viard then found the best way to close the show: a simple and lithe black dress with gold chain trimmings, topped with a stiff and wide collar that sat high on the neck. It was a look that melded her sense of ease – there it is again – with Lagerfeld’s signature uniform of black and white and starched collars.

There’s no question that Viard, who has been with the house since 1987 and whom Lagerfeld calls his “right arm”, knows what she is doing, and we cannot wait to see what she has up her subtly cuffed sleeves. Welcome to a new era of Chanel. Are you ready to hop on board?

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