What a Waist!

Chanel Metiers d’Art Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Theimpression.com

An article in WWD written by Bridget Foley, “Spring 2020 Trend: Waist Not”, October 16th, featured some of the “easy, breezy, unconstructed looks,” which were all over the spring runways. But that is hardly the only story. The ongoing Pre-Fall 2020 runway shows and presentations paint another picture. Whether high- waisted, low- waisted, or hitting just at the waist, many designers are focusing on the mid-section. Of course, nothing emphasizes the waist quite like a belt, and they have been the stars of several collections.

Virginie Viard’s first solo collection for the house of Chanel was cruise 2020, shown in May. On Wednesday, she presented her first Métiers d’Art line. The formal runway show was titled “31 Rue Cambon” and referenced the location of Coco Chanel’s famous apartment above the design studios and shop. In fact, the colors and the elaborate beadwork in the collection were inspired by the lush interior design of this apartment.

The set was co-designed by director Sofia Coppola. There was a sense of luxury and a level of sophistication with this collection that was missing from spring 2019. I thought it was Virginie’s best effort to date, and it was hard not to notice the statement-making belts.

Chanel Metiers d’Art Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Theimpression.com

The show began with a group of otherwise sober black wool coats that were animated with ornate sequined sash belts and silver art-deco waistbands with beading.

Chanel Metiers d’Art Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Vogue.com

The classic Chanel gold chain and black leather belt encircled the waist of a knee-length 1 shoulder black wool dress with sequins.

Chanel Métiers d’Art Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Theimpression.com

It also appeared on the waistband of the skirts that were part of a graphic black and white suit. In some cases, jeweled belts are worn as belly chains. At the end of the show, Virginie took her bow wearing a thin silver chain belt.

Jil Sander Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Vogue.com

Whereas Chanel is rather ornate, Jil Sander is the definition of minimal, but minimal in a way that is not sterile or antiseptic. Luke and Lucie Meier, creative directors of the house since 2017, are undoubtedly coming into their own. The Pre-Fall 2020 collection epitomizes the idea of modern luxury. Seeing it was a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t help but think of Phoebe Philo at Celine.

Jil Sander Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Vogue.com

Almost every outfit has a defined waist. The Meiers favor a slight empire waist, which happens to be very flattering. Many of the ensembles feature a narrow belt festooned with a piece of sculptural gold metal. It is a recurring theme throughout the line. There are ear clips, drop earrings and discreet chain necklaces made of gold like metal.

Proenza Schouler Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Vogue.com

Sculptural minimalism is at the heart of Proenza Schouler. For Pre-Fall 2020, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez focus on fluid draped matte jersey dresses and smart tailoring in double-faced cashmere, suede, and black leather. Many of the pieces are waist accented and belted.

Proenza Schouler Pre-Fall 2020
Photo: Vogue.com

Among the standouts are the handsome trench coats with metal accented grommet belts and the belted jersey dresses. A few feature relatively simple leather belts while others have wide leather corset-like belts built-in.

R13 Pre-Fall 2020 Collection
Photo: Theimpression.com

Chris Leba used not one, but two belts on many of the outfits in his R13 Pre-Fall 2020 collection. As is his wont, the line is a mix of military and utilitarian with rock and roll and punkish undertones, played out in neutral earthy colors.

The late L’Wren Scott once made this observation about fashion: “Men understand it as long as it has a waist.” I think women like seeing their waists as well. I believe that you can wear anything if you belt it. Try tautly belting your oversized puffer coat. It will make all the difference in the world.

Marilyn Kirschner
Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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