This morning, Chanel’s annual couture show took place to much fanfare. The show, which took place at the Grand Palais (a location in which Karl Lagerfeld has shown many collections throughout his tenure), and which he utilize as a stage, upon which he would show a play, than a set itself. This play was about Paris, a city synonymous with Chanel and its history. Today, the set was the Institut de France, which, when built in the 17th century, educated students from territories linked to France during the reign of Louis XIV. Like those students, Lagerfeld adopted France as his home. Indeed, it’s oddly poetic that Lagerfeld moved to Paris at the age of eighteen, an age which is commonly considered the beginning of adulthood; his first independent choice was to move to Paris. It was clearly meant to be. The staging also included the stands along the seine, called “Bouquinistes,” which are known for selling a variety of vintage posters, magazines, books, and cartoons. The bouquinistes are open from sunrise to sunset, and thus see a day of Paris in all its glory. It’s worth mentioning that Karl Lagerfeld’s young godson, a regular feature at a Chanel show, manned the book stands throughout. The detail of the set was, as always, incredible, down to the oxidized copper color of the stands.
This green color, along with the greys of the institute, and blacks and greys associated with Paris, largely guided the collection. Though frankly, the best pieces were those that moved away from those colors. And though the collection was, as always, extraordinary, it was not without fault.
The greatest abomination was the shoes, which were in a round shape, which I call witch-y style, with a low heel. They reminded me of an an unfortunate choice my history teacher wore frequently in a brown color. The other choice, which again I personally dislike, was the grey, which was often a lifeless grey, which reminded me not so much of classic Paris as a dismally drizzly day in London. Though it must be said that these pieces were obviously expertly and beautifully structured creating the lovely architectural, pointy shapes reminiscent of 1950s Dior. The contrast, therefore, of the 80s hair and makeup was most welcome.
One of the clear standout pieces of the show was the bridal gown, the closing piece (worn by the second ever black woman to close a Chanel show), featured a thigh-high slit, delicate but architectural ruffles, and a contemporary, elegant silhouette. Rather than a blushing bride, the look’s suit style and two-piece design showcased the modern woman – business first, bride second.
Another lovely piece which featured a bustier embezzled with purple, magenta, and black sequins, was lovely. My personal favorite, however, was the metallic, Chinese inspired robe with a red silk lining, I feel confident that it will be worn in some way at an awards ceremony this coming awards season.
Yet another lovely facet of the collection was the variation shown. It never ceases to amaze me that Lagerfeld devotes himself to a variation of fabrics in each and every show. Of course, he brought back the classic tweed look, which was a signature of Mademoiselle herself, but he also always uses tulle in a classic, gothic ballerina sort of way (not an Oklahoma pageant girl sort of way), velvet, sequins, brocade, satin, and leather. There are about a dozen looks in this incredible runway, which at first glance appears to be a bit bland, but upon careful examination of each piece, is actually quite lovely. There are no boring blacks or suits; he is committed to creating not only a coherent collection but also unique and individual works of art.
A Few Standout Pieces: