There is absolutely no doubt that I am a rather devoted fan and client of the House of CHANEL. To me, CHANEL has and always will represent all that is so incredible about the world of fashion and design. The creations are a combination of artistry, creativity, and unparallel excellence. The pinnacle of those very special creations are the bi-annual Haute Couture collections. Representing thousands of hours of incredible craftsmanship and highly specialized knowhow, the garments that comprise a CHANEL Haute Couture collection transcend the world of fashion and are truly works of art. Under the direction of the late Karl Lagerfeld, these collections were true flights of fancy. Season after season, they never failed to utterly entrance the fashion world and the very select clientele who are fortunate enough to actually commission pieces from these collections. With Lagerfeld’s recent passing and the appointment of his long-time right-hand woman, Virginie Viard, the fashion world waited with bated breath to see what the House’s first Haute Couture collection would be like under her direction. Needless to say, her first
HauteCouture collection did not disappoint. I would venture to say it was indeed a triumph.
Speaking of her first solo haute couture collection,Virginie Viard, Artistic Director of CHANEL Fashion collections, confided that she ‘dreamt about a woman with nonchalant elegance and a fluid and free silhouette; everything I like about the CHANEL allure.” Set against the backdrop off an elegant library that was constructed beneath the towering grandeur of the Grand Palais, the collection shown was nothing short of perfection and perfectly in-line with Viard’s vision. With its winding shelves and banquettes, wing chairs, rugs, and ornaments the set radiated a serene sophistication that played beautifully against the exquisite collection.
A color palette of classic CHANEL colors like black, white, and navy was punctuated with pops of honey, plum, burgundy and even flashes of pink, fuchsia, green, and orange. Infused with the streamlined elegance of a 1930’s inspired silhouette, the pieces bring to mind the glacial beauty and glamour of Gretta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Bette Davis, and Katherine Hepburn. These garments are resplendent with the savoir-faire of the CHANEL Haute Couture ateliers. Fabrics like duchess satin, wool crepe, chiffon, organza velvet and tweed are manipulated in such a way that draping and pleating are elevated to an artform. Magnificent textured lace, embroideries, feathers and more decidedly luxe finishings adorn the pieces. However, the most incredible details are found hidden within a dress that features Karl Lagerfeld’s writing slipped into its sequined embroideries.
The pieces of the CHANEL Fall-Winter Haute Couture Collection for 2019/2020 are at first glance subtle in their chic simplicity and clean lines, yet this is incredibly deceptive. When studied more closely, the garments show the staggering craftsmanship and intricate construction that are so indicative of CHANEL Haute Couture. Collars and cuffs alone highlight the incredible artistry of the house’s couture ateliers. Inspired by the literary setting of the show, they are layered in a way the evokes the appearance of the open pages of a book.
The classic CHANEL jacket is shown as a bomber jacket with rounded shoulders and sleeves when paired with a strapless dress or tweed skirt but is also shown cropped with pointed shoulders, an officer collar or small quilted collar when paired with wide-cut fluid trousers. The intertwinement of the feminine and the masculine, a hallmark of the House of CHANEL dating back to Mademoiselle Chanel herself, is beautifully re-interpreted by Viard in the gowns and dresses of the collection in particular. Look Number 54 in particular is a true triumph of this delicate balance between the two. Done in classic CHANEL black and white, the gown features a feminine defined waist and full skirt as well as well as the trim collar and cuffs typical of menswear. As for the traditional Haute Couture bride that brings each show to a close, Viard imagined her with a carefree charm. Dressed in pyjamas and a robe of delicate pale pink satin that is pleated and embellished with cascading feathers.