Set in a cloistered vegetable garden inside Le Grand Palais, Virginie Viard presented an homage to Coco’s childhood in her Chanel Haute Couture SS20 show. It was laundry day at the Abbey of Aubazine and the white linen sheets fluttered on lines which ringed the rambling garden. The abbey, a children’s home where Gabrielle Chanel lives between the ages of 12-18 provided the inspiration for Virginie Viard’s couture. “What I immediately liked was that the cloister garden was uncultivated. It was really sunny. The place made me think of the summer, a breeze fragranced with flowers. I wanted florals embroideries like an herbarium, delicate flowers. What interested me in this decor was the paradox between the sophistication of Haute Couture and the simplicity of this place.”
The austere uniforms of the boarding girls and the nuns informed Chanel’s monochrome design aesthetic, and in turn Viard, who evoked “the schoolgirl, the outfits worn by children long ago.” There was a primness to the white lace Peter Pan collars and tweed suits styled with girlish white tights and Bobby socks. Some tweedy looks were veiled in net but came with collars lavishly embroidered by couture artisans. There were virginal white communion dresses and one lace skirt suit was embroidered to look like the stained glass windows of the Abbey. Austere, feminine but fabulously sophisticated – Viard’s Chanel seduces. And with each show, her vision takes shape.
by Claudia Croft