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Review: Chanel offers stripped-back, booted-up luxe for fall 2020

Chanel AW20
Looks from the Chanel fall and winter 2020 ready-to-wear runway collection presented Tuesday.
(Christophe Archambault / AFP/Getty Images)

From the first looks to hit the runway at the Grand Palais to the last, the Chanel fall and winter 2020 runway collection was all about those seven-league boots — black leather with a generous fold-over flap in contrasting brown leather that added a dash of swashbuckling swagger to some looks and horse-racing flair to others.

They were, artistic director Virginie Viard said in her postshow notes, a nod to Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, who died just over a year ago and who owned a similar pair.

Chanel AW20
A look from the Chanel fall and winter 2020 women’s ready-to-wear collection presented Tuesday on the last day of Paris Fashion Week.
(Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

Seven-league boots get their name from European folklore (the wearer could magically stride the distance of seven leagues in a single step). Here too they seemed to work a bit of magic as one of the several elements that helped make the collection feel more accessible and more commercial but in a way that didn’t feel as if it was compromising the luxury cred of the Lagerfeld era.

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Helping in this department was the other eye-catching element from Tuesday’s runway show: coin-sized snap-button fasteners that embellished suit jackets as well as pant-leg side seams, giving the latter the ability to flare at the ankle and sway with each step.

Chanel AW20
Inspirations for the fall and winter 2020 women’s collection included jockey silks and jodhpurs, a nod to both house namesake Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, who held the creative reins for decades until his death last year.
(Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

The track-pant-like trousers were inspired by jodhpurs, Viard wrote, and tops riffed on jockey silks, nods to both Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (who apparently owned a racehorse named Romantica) and a photo of Lagerfeld wearing riding boots and a striped suit.

But make no mistake about it, even while she was paying homage to the two fashion giants who made the house what it was, Viard was in a full gallop to put her own imprint on it.

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Chanel AW20
A throughline of the fall and winter 2020 collection was the swashbuckling seven-league boot.
(Christophe Archambault / AFP/Getty Images)

This could be seen in an overall more relaxed, easygoing silhouette that, in addition to the athleisure-style deployment of snap-buttons, also included bandeau tops, skirts and pants in sweatsuit gray, puffer-like coats and a range of roomy white shirts.

Taken together with the chunky, eye-catching statement jewelry that hung around necks and encircled waists, it telegraphed the arrival of a new Chanel women: softer, yes, but also more powerful and more sure of herself, one who seems to confidently stride seven leagues in a single step whether on the Paris catwalk or Rodeo Drive.

Whether or not she’s wearing a pair of magical boots.

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The finale of the fall and winter 2020 Chanel women’s runway show.


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