Virginie Viard took full creative control in a collection inspired by Coco’s convent days.
Mark the season: With haute couture spring 2020, Virginie Viard took full creative possession of Chanel. She found power in pretty in a collection seemingly definitive in its schism from the Karl past, a break that stirred a waft of wistful among some in the audience. But Chanel is now a year into its “next phase,” and Viard did herself and the house proud. It was a delight to behold.
For inspiration, Viard looked to an intense, formative period in the life of the house founder, when, after her mother’s death, the young Gabrielle and her sisters were sent to the convent school at the Cistercian Abbey of Aubazine in Corrèze.
There, Chanel found references from which she would draw for a lifetime. How long they stay with Viard — who knows? But in this crucial moment for her, she delivered masterful invocations.
Intentionally or otherwise, with her choice of reference, Viard drew an inescapable parallel: adolescent girl schooled in a world of austerity and wonder; mature woman, apprenticed long-term to modern fashion’s greatest maestro.
Just as Gabrielle would leave the protective if confining shadows of the convent, Viard has emerged from the shadow of her brilliant longtime mentor.