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In Photos: At an Old-World Train Station, Virginie Viard’s Fresh Start for Chanel

By T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore

 
Chanel Cruise ’20: The Set

“On August 28th in 1952, I arrived at the Gare du Nord in Paris,” Monsieur Lagerfeld once said. “To me, the city seemed to be straight out of the films and the books I’d found so fascinating. I’d come to spend two years at high school, but my trip to Paris lasted much longer.” The tradition for Chanel Cruise shows was to bring the audience to a destination, far-flung from the house’s Grand Palais home ground: Los Angeles, Seoul, Singapore, Santa Monica airport, Grand Central Station — the list goes on. But for the Cruise ’20 season, it returned to the Grand Palais. Perhaps a tip of the hat to Lagerfeld’s nascent arrival, the set was of a Parisian train station that was decidedly transported out of the Belle Époque epoch; replete with old-fashioned wooden benches and platform signs bearing the names of places where Chanel, under Lagerfeld, had shown. Prior to being seated, show-goers were invited to experience a French breakfast at Le Riviera café designed to replicate the interior of an elaborate dining carriage of a pre-war train.

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Chanel Cruise ’20: Virginie Viard

Seemingly moved, Virginie Viard took a poignant bow for her inaugural collection for the hallowed French house. She succeeded Karl Lagerfeld, who passed away in February this year. As Lagerfeld’s former creative “right arm” for more than three decades — she interned for him at Chloé before following him to Chanel in 1987 — Viard is well-primed for the job.

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Chanel Cruise ’20: The Looks

The idea of the female traveller was in Viard’s mind. If the train station wasn’t evident enough, the clothes then paid firm testament to that: The Chanel tweed suit came structured and purveyed functionality, positing four to six patch pockets; louche workwear in shades of mocha and navy recalled the uniform of a stationmaster; trousers were wide-fitting in varying playful proportions: high-waisted and cropped at shin length, billowing as above-the-ankle culottes, slashed from the knee to the hem.

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Chanel Cruise ’20: The Looks

The oscillation between the masculine and feminine was in play, of course. This telling trope was at the crux of Gabrielle Chanel’s leitmotif as it was to Lagerfeld’s. Viard adhered to just that. In her collection were plunging necklines and buttoned up work jackets; frills and structure; gentleness and vigour.

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Chanel Cruise ’20: The Looks

Following the opening dark palette, a gush of pastel colours streamed in a myriad of forms. Dresses with blurred prints of which hinted at landscapes glimpsed out of the window of a speeding train. A sense of boldness was represented in the ease of cloaking oneself in the striking tonality of lavender hues or pale cerulean. But comfort was of utmost importance, too: silhouettes were loose and heel heights were kept moderate.

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Chanel Cruise ’20: The Beauty Looks

Models Sara Dijkink and Leila Goldkuhl after Lucia Pica’s beauty transformation. Pica, Chanel’s global creative makeup and colour designer said she was particularly inspired by Viard’s breadcrumbs of black — a ribbon, pants, bits and pieces — among the sea of colours. Hence the lustrous black lips. “You will see that about twenty girls have this black shiny cherry lip. I kept this lacquered lip on only a few models as an element of surprise,” Pica said.

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Chanel Cruise ’20: The Beauty Looks

Models Lauren de Graaf, Yvonne Bevanda and Yasmin Wijnaldum. “The makeup has this ’90s feeling to it with a soft take on ’20s heroine women,” explained Pica. Adhering to the ’90s’ bare-minimum predilection, the skin and lips were polished to healthy rosiness. Pica topped the look off with slight contour as a nod to the ’20s va-va-voom.

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Photographs by Olivier Saillant and Lucile Perron. Courtesy of Chanel.