There was an air of quiet confidence at Virginie Viard’s debut Chanel Autumn/Winter 2019 Couture show, for which the Grand Palais was transformed into a multi-floor Bibliotheque that paid homage to Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld’s favourite pastime. The sepia-toned set was minimalist and modest but not lacking in gravitas — an approach signature to Viard’s now two-collection solo legacy at Chanel — and a calm serenity washed over the expectant crowd thanks to the heady, soothing tunes of a Portishead soundtrack.
The show opened with a series of tall and slim tweed jackets that skimmed the ankles and in movement exposed flashes of opaque white tights worn with polished loafer slippers. The silhouettes were defined by clean lines and minimalist shapes, often accented by sharp mandarin collars or white Elizabethan ruff collars (reminiscent of Lagerfeld’s signature) that neatly framed the face. Models were groomed with side-parted low ponytails and respectable feline flicks, some donning metal-rim reading glasses or a single dangling feather earring.
Viard instilled a strong sense of freshness and modernity to constructions that excelled on cutting-edge textiles. Intricately woven and embroidered materials flitted effortlessly between classic hues and bursts of high saturation that leaned on the side of neon. Of note was a highlighter coral tweed skirt suit, worn by Kaia Gerber, that was topped by a white shoulder panel made of folded organza flowers that looked as if they were 3-D printed. A few looks down saw a silk navy robe worn atop a pair of high-relief sequin trousers. Later, a white and fuschia feather rosette jacket tucked inside metallic print trousers that made for a maximalist print combo. Looks that emphasised shape over material gave classic silhouettes a youthful update. A buoyant purple dress with an exaggerated full skirt bobbed beneath a tiny white belt-cinched waist, topped by a loose sheer top of the same material. Elsewhere, a long black velvet gown with a sharp white tuxedo bib felt at once traditional and modern and completely in line with Chanel’s house codes.