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At Chanel, a Collection is Built from a Newly Uncovered Piece of History

Drawing her inspiration from anywhere between the Seine river and Coco Chanel’s newly discovered love for horse riding, Virginie Viard roped it all into a cohesive collection, presenting a version of Chanel as desirable as ever.

Stepping into the Grand Palais for a Chanel show is always a dream. A pinch-me moment. Every season, the set transports you to a place and moment in time fit for the collection due to be staged. This time, going into the show venue we were greeted by a reflective, mirror-like runway flanked by sinuous, curved white tiered platforms. The scene – Chanel’s abstract interpretation of Paris’s iconic Seine river.

Throughout the course of history, the Seine has played a pivotal role as a route for commercial trade and travel. Taking the river as a point of inspiration, Virginie Viard presented a play on maritime influences in the Fall/Winter 2020 lineup. The white ruffled shirts à la Jack Sparrow; the season’s footwear choice of fold-over boots; the bishop sleeved numbers. The elements Viard pulled from the men of the seas were worked into the season’s contemporary wear so seamlessly its context almost didn’t matter. You could go so far as to saying the same about the collection on the whole. Simply put, these were garments we wanted in our wardrobes even on face value. We can already see the absolutely adorable Chanel leggings on our Instagram feeds – can you not?

For those after clothing born out of a narrative and history attached to it, the collection had plenty to offer too. Departing from the seas, Viard took to the stables. Equestrian sensibilities inspired by a recent discovery in the Chanel archives – Coco Chanel’s love affair with horse riding – were amongst the key motifs that underscored the collection. Look closely enough and you’d spot horse patterns on the season’s assortment of outerwear.

Since taking over the helm, Viard has moved the house in a decidedly younger direction while still retaining the heritage of the house and even uncovering new facets of history to go off of. Lately, the elusive Chanel ateliers have also opened their doors to industry insiders – we have had the pleasure of visiting a few ourselves – a move that makes Chanel more accessible than it has ever been. If not in price point, least in inspiring a lifestyle.

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