Chanel’s haute couture show was set in a faux library (with 350,000 real books) inspired by Coco’s own library at her rue Cambon apartment and the Galignani bookstore on rue de Rivoli. In the post-Karl era, Virginie Viard’s softer, quieter and more introspective touch was apparent in the clothing: the self-effacing designer’s pieces featured rounded shoulders, soft fabrics, looser cuts, muted tones. There was hardly any skin on show, make-up was minimal and reading glasses gave models a bookish appearance. Was it the perfect example of a collection designed by a woman for women? One thing’s for sure, full-skirted, ballet-length black velvet gowns stole the show.
If black velvet has for many years languished in the zone of the under-tens (with obligatory velvet hairband) now it’s back in grown-up guise, in suits, skirts and trousers, less prim (or even prima ballerina) and more relaxed and easy to wear than ever. Velvet used always to be made entirely from silk. Now it’s rarely pure silk, but is mixed with rayon or with lurex, to make stretch velvet. How to wear velevt now? Velvet needs little or no accessorising – avoid the traditional pairing of pearls and red lipstick, and keep it minimal and modern instead.