Karl Lagerfeld's successor brings demure librarians to Chanel catwalk

PARIS (REUTERS) – Buttoned up looks fit for a studious afternoon in the library filled Chanel’s Haute Couture runway show on Tuesday (July 2), as models paraded around an enormous bookcase in designer Virginie Viard’s second, closely-watched solo outing for the French brand.

Viard, a long time collaborator of Chanel’s veteran creative chief Karl Lagerfeld, took on the design reigns at the luxury label after the German fashion star died in February at 85.

The brand has so far preserved many of the elements that have drawn fans and rich clients back over the years, including new twists every season on its famed tweed suits, and several guests said they were taken with Viard’s interpretation of them.

“It did feel a little bit different with the new designer… maybe a little younger,” said Chinese customer Regina Chen, 30, as she craddled a little white dog and posed for pictures after the show.

Tuesday’s collection – part of Paris’ Haute Couture week, a presentation of one-of-a-kind outfits considered the height of fashion prowess – featured elaborate takes on the Chanel classic, including a mauve trouser suit with wide legs.

Model Kaia Gerber showed off a bright pink, skirted version with flowery, white shoulders, while others wore longer versions of the tweed skirts.

The collection also included intricately-beaded gowns, a shimmering fuschia number and a more sultry, velvet evening dress.

Dubai resident Reem Abousamra, another long-time Chanel client, said she was drawn to some of the winter coats on display, and was glad that Viard had not veered too far from its trademark looks.

“You could feel the new touch with maybe more feminine cuts, longer skirts,” she said.

“They shouldn’t change completely…, you have to have the spirit (of Chanel).”

Viard’s show plunged spectators deep into the inner sanctum of a spectacular, circular library.

Several models wore glasses, and prim looks dominated the runway, with high, Edwardian-style collars or dresses evoking ladies riding outfits.

Chanel, also known for its no5 perfume, is privately-owned by the Wertheimer family. It is the second biggest luxury brand in the world after LVMH’s Louis Vuitton, with annual sales up 13 per cent last year to US$11.1 billion (S$15 billion).

Chief financial officer Philippe Blondiaux told Reuters in June that Viard was there for the long term.

He denied that Chanel had had any discussions with former Celine designer Phoebe Philo, rumoured in industry circles as another possible successor to Lagerfeld.

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