Viard Creates Confusion at Chanel

Chanel has always been know for their extravagant runway shows and the Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear presentation shown at Paris Fashion Week was no exception. This runway show although similar in setting, received a bit of negative feedback. This was the second collection debuted with Virginie Viard, French fashion designer, as the director of Chanel. Since Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, we have seen Chanel transition a bit under its new direction and not everyone has taken a likening to the changes. Many felt that show was a bit confusing and not exactly on-brand for Chanel as an “anything-goes” attitude was embraced and the pairing choices were random. As this serves as the most recent fashion show for the brand but only the second show under the direction of Viard it is unclear if Chanel is transforming their brand image into a more lax attitude or if this was a one-time mistake from Viard and we will see Chanel return to tradition in following shows. 

The theme of the show was freedom and focused on the idea of liberation translated into “unforced woman-friendly pieces”. Viard wanted the hair to look windblown and portray the feeling that a horse rider feels as their hair flows in the wind. The models and makeup were kept simple and portrayed a natural beauty look with no added or over the top glamour. While the no-nonsense glamour isn’t exactly traditional Chanel, Viard still pulled inspiration from Lagerfeld and his muse Anna Piaggi by incorporating a bit of Edwardian finery found in a 1980’s photograph of the two. 

The set design was beautifully futuristic and was the most on-brand element that we saw in this collection. The show took place at the Grand Palais and was made up to be a makeshift version of River Seine. The set was all white and metallic, had beautiful flow, and portrayed an airy waterway paying homage to one of Paris’s icons. 

In future fashion shows and events, I think the best thing for Chanel to do will be to stick to the brand image the Lagerfeld and Coco Chanel created. Changing to a “no-nonsense glamour” image truly isn’t Chanel. Nothing about the brand image is simple, comfortable, and thoughtless. If Viard does her best to incorporate traditional Chanel while being adaptive to the times I believe she will have the best chance at success as the new creative director of the Chanel brand. 

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