Chanel’s AW20 couture show marks a return to bold beauty

With the global pandemic placing a temporary halt on physical fashion shows, this year’s couture offering has been unlike any other. The first ever digital version of Couture Fashion Week has forced designers to present collections in an entirely new way.

Alongside the fantastical settings, soundtracks and social-media storms, beauty has largely slipped away from the spotlight. Where the couture shows are usually a treasure-trove of incredible hair and make-up statements dreamed up by the most revered artists in the business, this season’s digital presentations have been notably lacking in liner and lipstick – likely largely down to differing social-distancing rules internationally. (To be fair, Ralph & Russo’s avatar needed no enhancement to bolster its impact.)

But for anyone lamenting the lack of post-lockdown beauty inspiration, Chanel’s autumn/winter 2020 couture show, released in the form of a fashion film and accompanying lookbook on Tuesday, is a feast for the eyes – especially those that have barely seen a lick of mascara since lockdown began.

For her third couture offering for the house, creative director Virginie Viard was “thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” indicating inspiration drawn more from Karl Lagerfeld’s bold exuberance than Gabrielle’s subtle polish.

Such inspiration undoubtedly leaves the door open for a season-defining beauty look, which Pica described as “romantic punk with a sophisticated twist, a playfulness paired with a chic sense of assurance.”

Just the thing to drag us out of a lockdown-induced make-up rut, Chanel global creative make-up and colour designer Lucia Pica made a strong case for liquid eyeliner, opting for dramatic double lines, smudged kohls and – the most wearable form of the look – a thin, defined line that traced the length of model Rianne Van Rompaey’s eyes before spiking into a point. The result is striking enough to work through the digital lens, yet approachable enough to inspire viewers to dig out their neglected make-up bags.

a close up of a woman: Chanel Haute Couture 2020© Courtesy of brand Chanel Haute Couture 2020

To complete the look, Pica “maintained a punk attitude to the make-up”, combining the bold liner with a “deep, dark and sophisticated lip.” The skin was “transparent and luminous, with accents of balmy highlight on the top of the lid and high on the cheekbones to give yet another twist to the same inspiration.”

a close up of a person: Chanel Haute Couture 2020© Courtesy of brand Chanel Haute Couture 2020

Admittedly, the light-reflecting brown lip may not translate to post-lockdown life, as face masks render lipsticks largely redundant, but the style-refreshing appeal of a bold swipe of liner, paired with gleaming skin, feels perfect for our impending emergence.


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