Chanel's fresh femininity survives a catwalk crasher
today Oct 1, 2019
It felt like a scene from a great classic movie, a spy film or romantic comedy, with scores of heroines on the rooftops of Paris at Chanel this morning in Paris. It even had a catwalk crasher, and the real life heroine was Gigi Hadid, playing the part of Harrison Ford in Polanski’s Paris caper flick Frantic.
Showing real courage under pressure, Hadid prevented a wacky lady in a check suit and Chanel style hat, later identified by sources as comedian and Youtube star Marie S'Infiltre ("Marie Infiltrates"), from invading the runway show finale. First staring her down, then gently but firmly ushering her off the catwalk before security staff stepped in.
A spring/summer 2020 collection that was the third designed for Chanel by Virginie Viard, the successor of the late Karl Lagerfeld who passed in February. It was unquestionably Viard's most successful, with the designer injecting a youthful dose of femininity and insouciance into the collection.
Like the opening looks that featured classic Chanel tweed tailoring, except that these double-breasted jackets were combined with hotpants. Hyper nonchalant, where the models walked with their hands in their pockets, walking mainly in flats, the tweeds and bouclés in upbeat colorful checks.
Self-assured, Viard also dreamed up a natty new silhouette, with a ruffle midriff and skirts or culottes, seen in wool suits and party frocks. When Viard did eventually move to black, it was a perfectly cut coatdress on a model that worked her straw boater at a jaunty 45-degree angle.
Perhaps not everything worked – like the denim flamenco shirts, and a quartet of logo print dresses - but there was a great sense of a designer stretching her tailoring atelier. And of a creator stretching herself.
That mood was underlined by Hadid, who marched out in sequined mini bolero jacket worn over hotpants with a gold logo chain; black tights and patent leather high-heels. Little did she know that minutes later she would have play a more dynamic role – effectively saving the show from descending into a farce.
Though the casting contained all the top models of the moment, this selection seemed quirkier, younger and even gamine. Throughout there was a sense of a young woman very much enjoying getting dressed to head out and face her day.
Viard got the idea for the giant set from the rooftop view from Chanel’s studio on rue Cambon, and even included a dark print of gables, chimneys and mansards. She was also very respectful of Chanel’s DNA, riffing on Coco’s rather unique blend of independence mixed with luxury; class sweetened with a certain sense of French impertinence.
“I was thinking very much of Paris, and what is more Parisian than its rooftops? Also we have the chance to have the Grand Palais, so why not build a great set with a cinematic sense. My eye was seeing Kristen Stewart but also Jean Seberg,” explained Viard as she exited the show.
No crowd surrounded her, slipping out quietly with just one pal, essentially unnoticed, from the front door of the Grand Palais. Not a rock-star media-frenzy-inducing designer maybe, but a lady doing an impressive job, delivering a very convincing collection.
Karl would have approved.