Virginie Viard’s first show was for a new generation of Chanel women

Image by Chanel/via Instagram
Words by Bianca O’Neill


Gone are the elaborate sets. Here to stay is modern, French style.

Inspired by La Nouvelle Vague (a mid-century film movement which rejected traditional conventions and embraced both the radical and political), came Virginie Viard’s first Chanel collection truly solo from Karl’s shadow.

Set amongst a pared-back set mimicking the rooftops of Paris – this is where the cool girls tread.

The show opened with a parade of tweed – a nod to Chanel’s treasured heritage, and something that would have surely delighted the traditionalists in the audience.

However, the oft-tread domain of tweed two-pieces slowly morphed into a hint of what was to come; a positively youthful romper, a clashing plaid three-piece cinched by a pair of balloon shorts, even an oversized, large-loomed knit.

Plaid gave way to stripes – another nod to a classic French tradition – and stripes gave way to sequins, energetic prints, and even a pair of mum jeans.

Ballskirts were paired with subtle logo sweaters, and a striking rooftop-inspired print was delivered via silky, pyjama-like separates. There were even hot shorts, albeit disappointingly paired with opaque black tights to invariably tone it down.

Regardless of this slight penchant for prudism, the collection was youthful, fresh, and vibrant. It was for the cool kids.

The couture house is opening up its appeal to a modern audience more than ever before. Notably evident in the increased diversity in casting, which included never-before-seen (at least in this writer’s lifetime) natural afro-textured hair on a Chanel runway.

It was, for Chanel, subtly radical.

For those presuming I’m being hyperbolic, remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. And Lagerfeld’s looming ghost can’t be toppled in one, either.

While some lamented the loss of the elaborate sets of which Karl was so fond, for me it speaks of Viard’s understanding of a new breed of customer – one who finds the excess of constructing a full-sized rocket in the Grand Palais gaudy, but who also covets their first Chanel purchase.

After all, what are millennials if not a walking contradiction?

Though Viard’s reference to New Wave cinema hinted at a spirit of iconoclasm, she hasn’t quite thrown away the shackles of Chanel’s firm reins yet. It was, perhaps, a revolutionary runway for Viard (and the hoards of Chanel classicists), but I am hoping this is just the first step towards a thoroughly modern interpretation of the couture house’s storied history.

Watch the full show below.

– Follow Bianca’s fashion commentary over at @bianca.oneill

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