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The evening of July 2 marked Virginie Viard’s haute couture debut at Chanel. With big shoes to fill, there was no doubt that all eyes were on her given that she was the choice to be Karl Lagerfeld’s successor as creative director. 

Both Lagerfeld and Chanel were known to be lovers of books. Chanel’s famous 31 Rue Cambon apartment is lined with towering shelves filled with poets, philosophers, and writers. Paying homage to both creative geniuses behind Chanel, Viard transformed the Grand Palais—where just two weeks ago Karl Lagerfeld’s memorial was hosted—into a subtle, but no less grand, three-floored circular library linked by sliding staircases. The setting was completed with the works of Stendhal, Flaubert, Plato, Dante, Montaigne, and Cervantes creating a more-refined and quieter atmosphere.

“I dreamed about a woman with nonchalant elegance and a fluid and free silhouette— everything I like about the Chanel allure,” said Viard before the show.

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The pieces featured strong suits in tall and narrow silhouettes with a powerful sense of femininity. But the inspiration of creating clothes for working women to wear with ease, which lies behind the collection, did not diminish its dramatic elements, adding highlighted hues of corals and soft lavenders, as well as metallic threads and sequins and high-neck ruffled blouses while the models sported reading glasses.  

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Perhaps the atmosphere of quiet savoir faire was a reminder to us that this is only the beginning of a new era, and although she honoured both Lagerfeld and Chanel in using subtle traces of camellias and lions with the Grand Palais as the venue, Viard is taking control and putting her own flair into Chanel.

Read more: Inside Karl Lagerfeld's Memorial, 'Karl For Ever'