Following the reign of design royalty Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, all eyes are on Chanel’s new creative director Virginie Viard—the first female to helm the brand since ‘Coco’ herself—to guide the iconic interlocking Cs to fresh, but familiar pastures. It’s a giant order, but for Chanel’s Cruise 2020, Viard has most certainly delivered. Painting a Parisian, pre-war cruising scene, Chanel transformed the classic setting of the Grand Palais into a Beaux-arts train station—harking back more than a century to Coco Chanel’s heyday, whilst recreating a crisp air of pre-vacation anticipation. With this new offering, Viard stayed true to the sartorial dynasty of the inimitable house, and still managed to surprise with fresh direction and floral flourishes, shown in the exclusively fitting imagery below.

It’s an intriguing new direction for Chanel, but perhaps less of a departure than it appears. After all, Viard’s design vision has been woven into the fabric of Chanel for countless collections—she began interning at the illustrious label in as early as 1987. Following Lagerfeld’s passing in February, the question of who would be next to fill his shoes sparked industry buzz and internet furor, but Viard’s appointment as Lagerfeld’s heir in March was a natural progression. Having worked alongside Lagerfeld at Chloé, and been the coordinator of haute couture at Chanel since 1997, the late Lagerfeld wasn’t downplaying things when he stated Viard “is my right and left arm.” The stakes are high for Viard and it set Chanel’s Cruise 2020 to be a hotly anticipated happening. Thankfully, her designs emerged exuding the warm breeze and effortlessness of a summer excursion.

Continuing the travel narrative spun from the panelled walls and train tracks lining the Grand Palais, Viard’s collection is drawn for the globe-trotting woman. Soft chiffon vests, relaxed bows, and sparingly placed ruffles were offset with sharper, workwear tailoring—tweed jackets with breast pockets, wide leg trousers and tall, pressed collars. The ensembles were elevated by signature glints of Chanel gold—hoop earrings and partial chain belts both featured to tie the final touches together. For her debut as Chanel’s latest conductor, Viard was out to prove the innate elegance to be found in simple, functional travel wear. With silhouettes this graceful—and detailed—success for Viard is plain to see.

All images courtesy of Chanel

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