Wednesday 4th March

| BY Claudia Croft

Chanel: Ready-to-wear AW20

Virginie Viard’s Chanel is taking shape. It is breezy, pragmatic, nonchalant, jeunesse and very Parisienne. Viard sent her models out in friendship groups onto a mirrored catwalk banked with curving tiered seats in the black and white monochrome of Chanel’s beauty packaging. She’s moving the house away from the lavish Disney-style staging favoured by Karl Lagerfeld towards something more pared back. And she’s doing it with the clothes too.

The girls linked arms and chatted as groups of young women do. And the look? A long tweed coat, matching micro shorts, polkadot sheer tights and swashbuckling cuffed riding boots, which brought a little toughness.Their hair was tied back with a simple black bow, their skin impossibly dewy and their attitude utterly carefree. This is a Chanel for a new generation. It skews not toward the big haired ladies who lunch but her gamine, younger relatives. The main trouser shape was modelled after sweatpants with poppers but done in upscale materials like leather and silk velvet. A lace cropped vest and matching tube skirt verged on club wear. A black raffia rah rah, looked fresh and gamine. Viard’s instinct is to pare down. She striped one classic tweed skirt suit back to a tweed bandeau top and matching maxi. Viard even sent out a Chanel tracksuit. Coco Chanel owned racehorses and it was styled after her jockey silks. The originals were pink but this came in minimalist black velvet with white armbands and was worn by the gorgeous Jill Kortleve, who brought some much needed body diversity to the show.

Chanel is still a dream factory – these clothes are beautifully crafted in the finest materials, but Viard’s attitude is young, casual and unforced. Her instinct is to take the fantasy and fuss out of things and bring a sense of reality and modern life to the house. In that sense, she nailed it.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.