Chanel’s Couture Muse Is A Punk Princess, Inspired By Karl Lagerfeld

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Eccentric opulence, rock’n’roll styling and a touch of punk-inspired tweed — Chanel’s autumn/winter 2020 couture collection is an ode to Karl Lagerfeld and faraway nights spent partying until dawn. 

Think back to Chanel’s spring couture collection and you’ll recount the refined minimalism that ran through it; the structured school-girl dresses, preppy skirts and Bertha collars against a backdrop of a cloister garden reminiscent of the ancient Cistercian abbey of Aubazine where Gabrielle Chanel spent her childhood. A catwalk show elevated by its setting and carefully crafted designs that had to be seen to be appreciated. Take your mind back to present day, where the Grand Palais is a distant memory and digital presentations are the new norm, and Virginie Viard is calling for opulence, so audacious it can almost be touched through a screen. 

“I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” reveals Viard. “With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel.”  Making a case for rock romanticism and the punk princess, Viard unveiled updated tweed sets threaded with silver ribbon and embellished with stones and sequins; there were flashes of hot pink and deep violent among the mostly black and grey palette; brooches, tiaras and heavy jewellery adorned dresses with big-energy skirts that mirrored several moments in time — from the eighties to the Victorian era. 

Lagerfeld’s penchant for edgy romance is apparent throughout the 30 looks (cut from 70 due to the closing of ateliers during lockdown), as Viard states, “for me, haute couture is romantic by its very essence. There is so much love in each one of these silhouettes.” Inspired by German paintings, Chanel’s autumn/winter 2020 couture collection is dedicated to “Karl’s world” and the muses that were in it…including a shimmering punk princess. 

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  • Photography by Mikael Jansson, Courtesy of Chanel