For its Spring-Summer 2020 Haute Couture show, CHANEL transported its audience into the hidden world of Gabrielle Chanel’s girlhood: the Abbey of Aubazine, where Gabrielle and her sisters were sent to live in 1895. Monastery life left a deep imprint on the young girl’s aesthetic, informing the refined simplicity she would later realize in her work. To present the collection, composed by Virginie Viard following her own visit to the ancient abbey, the Grand Palais was transformed into an elegant cloister garden.
The pieces take cue from Aubazine’s hushed beauty: sequin-enveloped dresses and suits in geometric patterns nod to the stained glass windows; jeweled buttons imprinted with flower and star motifs recall the paving on cobblestone floors. Fabrics and silhouettes bring forth the demure aura of the boarding schoolgirl: straight-cut, high collared wool dresses; double-breasted pea coats topping tweed skirts; white socks meeting lace-up booties. The occasional featherweight flounced gown lightens up the austere mood; juxtaposing layers of habit-inspired black and white tulle with colorful florals reminiscent of abbey gardens.