Virginie Viard’s inspiration for the Fall 2020 Couture Collection is all about chic maximalism, 80s references and expressive grandiosity. Having decided to walk towards a completely different creative direction than the one she followed on her last collection, the house’s creative director chose an aesthetic reminiscent of Karl Lagerfeld’s posh party times, when dressing up was a prerequisite for having a splendid time and discovering the best version of your social self.
The Collection, which due to the circumstances included only 30 looks instead of the usual 70, emits a sense of unapologetic superiority that embraces the classic CHANEL code while giving it all the modern twists a fashion aficionado would expect. Deeply textured, colorful tweeds, jackets with smocked midriffs and leg-of-mutton sleeves, a knee-length tunic over boot-leg pants, minidresses, ample skirts, floral patterns, leggings, as well as opulent embroideries, headpieces and brooches form a luxurious synthesis that, apart from its expensive-looking quality, remains fun and feels contemporary. As those paying attention to Viard’s work may have already figured, her vision is quite clear and straight forward: diversity, elegance and an equilibrium of avant garde notions and pop attitude constitute the perfect fashion formula.
The looks were accessorized with trays of high jewelry, after a three-day fitting period overlooked by a security guard. Surprisingly enough, most of the fabrics used were already at the CHANEL studio, hence the production had a more laid-back feeling to it. Nevertheless, CHANEL’s longtime collaboration with its artisan houses such as Lesage, Montex, Cécile Henri, and Lemarié once more gave life to an immaculate collection of intricate handcrafted creations we are going to remember for quite some time.
Last minute changes, details craving attention, nerves going wild, an elaborate ongoing process that challenges the mind and makes history. What one can conclude from the seemingly endless workload of the expert artisans working in the CHANEL Haute Couture Ateliers is that you need to be completely in love with what you do in order to manually produce a collection of such high standards in such a short time.
The rule of doing and undoing is the only constant inside the atelier. The creative director’s vision might be comprehensible and the general idea of each sketch may be clear but this does not mean that it is easy to achieve on a practical level. The distance between concept making and actually “building” something part by part is more tangible than ever at this point. The seamstresses work tirelessly to “tame” each fabric in a way that does justice to Virginie Viard’s design, while keeping their eyes and ears open for any points that might make their job more accurate and efficient. At the end of the day, the clothes need to reflect the look and feel set by the head creative but, at the same time, they also need to “flow” in a functional, wearable way.
The fitting procedure is without a doubt what one could call “the moment of truth”. This is the time when fundamental traits of a garment could be completely changed or when a piece could meet its final form. Escaping the strictly artistic context and applying an item ideally to a model is the part where you can be sure a collection is getting real. What a satisfying experience!