The mighty house of Chanel is now a double-legacy brand that carries the DNA of both Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, fashion giants who between them shaped the way women wanted to look for a century and more.

 It is a giant ship to steer, and in her debut outing at the helm, Virginie Viard kept it on an even keel in tranquil waters—appropriately enough for a Cruise collection.

Here, in an atmosphere that evoked the sort of ambiance Chanel herself would have been familiar with as she prepared to speed off to La Pausa (the monastic house she built for herself in Roquebrune on the French Riviera in the early 1930s), breakfast was served for guests at the first of two shows, and lunch for those at the next.

The collection itself was presented downstairs in the great soaring space of the Grand Palais. Although there were train tracks here, there was no train—wisely, because who could eclipse the steaming trains of John Galliano’s sensational Fall 1998 Haute Couture show for Christian Dior, or Marc Jacobs’s no less astounding Fall 2012 presentation for Louis Vuitton.

Viard instead transformed the vast space of the Grand Palais into a train platform, the audience seated on old-fashioned benches, waiting expectantly, and the building’s existing Art Nouveau architecture successfully evoking a turn-of-the-century train station for giants. (