Perhaps due to last season’s infamous runway crasher, security was tight at Chanel’s autumn/winter 2020 show in Paris this morning — like, triple tight: Attendance required a paper invite with a barcode and a URL to be logged into ahead of time that triggered an email with a seat assignment and an additional barcode that then needed to be presented — along with photo ID — at the doors to the Grand Palais. But it was worth it because, after all, the Chanel show is the pinnacle of Paris Fashion Week — “It’s the point of all of this,” a woman said to me as we crossed the street, gesturing to the hoard of street style photographers and gathering onlookers.
Inside the enormous, light-filled historic venue, birds chirped through the PA system, and clouds of smoke dusted the mirrored runway. The show began exactly 20 minutes past the time on the invite, which was the earliest anything had begun all week. In the front row, one showgoer wore a medical mask with white Chanel flowers on it, a reminder that, despite the ongoing global health crisis, the fashion community has continued to gather in large groups in enclosed spaces. But, you know, it’s Chanel.
Opening with two models casually talking and laughing with each other for the entire length of the runway, creative director Virginie Viard immediately made a much stronger feminist statement than those that could be seen in flashing lights earlier this week. This was a show about friendship, about women supporting each other, and it was as easy to illustrate as having models grouped together, engaging cheerily with each other, or solemnly linking arms. Gigi Hadid appeared in a trio of models, an immediately meme-able moment.
And, the looks! In a classic colour palette of black, white, and grey, with pops of kiwi green, hot pink, and red, the collection leaned heavily on very ‘90s Chanel brand codes with some youthful updates: shorts with crop tops and layers of jewellery; cosy joggers that buttoned down the leg; a cropped pink puffer coat made of a looped fabric; dramatic Victorian dresses; coats that matched trousers, and — perhaps more interestingly — coats that didn’t match trousers. Like many other shows this season, there was a boyish necktie moment, as well as a feathered top, and lots of statement sleeves.
Most wanted from the collection, though, is likely to be the hair bows, CC tights, and, best of all, the new pirate knee-high boots, which were made of slouchy black leather with a brown or black fold-over at the top. They looked just as chic with the tracksuit bottoms as with the dresses.
All in all, the show played it relatively safe, acting as more of an ode to Chanel than a new chapter. But in a week that has felt chaotic at best and dangerous at worst, perhaps a little safety was exactly what the doctor ordered for the last day of fashion month. And now the doctor is ordering us to wash our hands and remain indoors.