5 Things To Know About Chanel’s Punk Couture AW20 Collection

After Virginie Viard’s pared-back Chanel haute couture spring/summer 2020 collection, Karl Lagerfeld’s successor has shunned quiet silhouettes in favour of all-out opulence for autumn/winter 2020.

From the rock’n’roll styling in Mikael Jansson’s pictures of Adut Akech and Rianne Van Rompaey, to Lagerfeld’s eccentric spirit at the core of the collection, here’s everything you need to know about Chanel’s latest revolutionary couture offering.

Chanel club nights are the place to be

“I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of Le Palace at dawn. With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery,” Viard said of her seasonal muse, who was embodied by models Adut Akech and Rianne Van Rompaey in the mixed-media lookbook. “Karl would go to Le Palace, he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed-up women, who were very eccentric too.” In lieu of a catwalk show (off the cards due to the Covid-19 restrictions), Akech and Van Rompaey pulled power stances and threw shapes for photographer Mikael Jansson to bring Chanel’s ’80s-debutante-letting-loose vibe to life.

Marie Antoinette would approve

Viard set Chanel’s minimalist couture spring/summer 2020 collection against the backdrop of a recreated cloister garden inspired by the one at the Abbey of Aubazine – in whose orphanage  Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel grew up. The prim and proper edit of achingly restrained, yet no less meticulously crafted, pieces mirrored the setting. Fast-forward to autumn/winter 2020 and a volte-face by Viard dictates all-out, unabashed opulence for Chanel’s couture clients. The precious house tweeds – which showcase the work of Métiers d’Art embellishers Lesage, Montex, Lemarié and Goossens – shimmer with sequins, beads and stones. Heavy brooches, rings and necklaces are piled on top of the colour-pop bouclé pieces in looks that have an air of the modern-day Marie Antoinette about them. “I like working like this, going in the opposite direction of what I did last time. I wanted complexity, sophistication,” said Viard, while the press release described long dresses that shared “a very grand siècle allure and the noble authority of heroines escaping from 19th-century tableaux”.

Karl was front and centre of Virginie’s mind

“This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel,” Viard commented on her predecessors. “I really had Karl’s world in mind…” The devotion of the petite-mains to the craft – which was mentioned by Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion activities and president of Chanel SAS – also calls to mind Lagerfeld’s tireless work ethic. “Week after week, everyone was thinking of a way to come back to work,” Pavlovsky told British Vogue of navigating the Covid-19 lockdown period. “We had a lot of requests from our people to come back to work. It was important to them.”

Love is stitched into the seams

While Viard’s Chanel tenure has so far been varied enough to avoid stereotyping, the woman at the helm of the house made one thing clear: “There is so much love in each one of these silhouettes… For me, haute couture is romantic by its very essence.” The joyful, spirit-lifting princess dresses certainly feel timely after the doom and gloom that 2020 has brought with it so far.

The collection was condensed from 70 to 30

The 70 looks that typically make up a Chanel couture collection were condensed into a 30-strong edit, owing to the three-month closure of the ateliers. “We had less time. It was much more complicated to work in the atelier. Virginie has been focused,” said Pavlovsky. “The story has been adapted. The result, for me, is something quite strong and more focused.” While some brands, such as Dior, will send their new-season couture designs to clients via travelling trunk shows, Chanel will welcome friends of the house in Paris for one-on-one appointments soon.



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