Tuesday 7th July

| BY Claudia Croft

Chanel’s Couture AW20 Collection Is An Ode To Punk Princesses

“I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of Le Palace at dawn,” reveals Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard. “With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel.” Back in the 1980s, Lagerfeld would accompany the likes of the original ‘Punk Princess’ Gloria von Thurn und Taxis to parties. The spiky-haired, young German aristocrat was known for wearing couture gowns and the family jewels (she married in Empress Eugenie’s diamond and pearl tiara) to Le Palace. Or Princess Diane de Baveau-Craon who shaved her head before her debutante ball. And so it was that Viard channelled a free-spirited woman, dressed in Haute finery but drawn to the wild side.

In lieu of a big-budget show, Viard unveiled her eighties-inspired muse (brought vividly to life by Adut Akech and Rianne Van Rompaey) with a pared-back Mikael Jansson video and look book shoot. Beautiful though this digital presentation of 30 couture looks was, the experience of viewing it is a world away from the pomp and pizazz of a real-life Chanel couture show. Talk about dominating the Paris schedule, traffic literally stops outside the Grand Palais, as Chanel clad clients (carrying their lapdogs), celebrities and the world’s press arrive for one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the fashion calendar. You’d have to break the internet into a million shiny shards to compete with that kind of buzz. Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion activities and Chanel SAS, acknowledged this. He has made no secret of the house’s preference for live shows over digital experiences, telling Vogue, “after the summer, it’ll be good if we can go back to something more brick-and-mortar.”

But the digital format does have its advantages. By stripping everything down to a white background, it focuses the eye on the clothes, which are some of the most exquisite in Paris. From the splendour of a bell-shaped bejewelled tweed mini dress and a lean, column of satin with sleeves encrusted with lavish floral embroidery, to a deliciously full taffeta party dress, these were joyful, vivid clothes, for women who love life. Just like the tweeds – this season woven from shimmering silver ribbons – there was nothing downbeat about it.

Photographs by Mikael Jansson.