Chanel

July 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News

A huge terrace with a fireplace—it has always been in Karl Lagerfeld’s mind as a beautiful idea, ever since he saw photos of the visionary architect Le Corbusier’s long-gone Paris apartment. “I just never found a place to do it,” he said after the Chanel show today. Until now, of course, when the gigantic forest-planting, iceberg-importing, supermarket-building extravaganzas of Chanel shows past were scaled down to mimic the stark geometry of Corbu’s designs. At either end of the catwalk were huge fireplaces stoked with digital flames. Above the mantel, a big old baroque mirror. Brutalist and baroque: A typically provocative union from a designer who skates across time like fashion’s answer to Doctor Who.

But it wasn’t simply with the setting that Lagerfeld indulged his long-cherished dream. Le Corbusier was the architect who made concrete a staple of modern design. So Lagerfeld made concrete the foundation of his collection. Concrete! In Haute Couture! When you turn it into tiny tiles, it becomes a beautiful mosaic. Who knew? Lagerfeld delightedly demonstrated the material’s unexpected lightness by dangling a string of concrete beads under the noses of journalists. “Tongue in chic,” he crowed. “Very chic.”

That twistedness was the key to the collection. The word couture implies cutting and seaming. There was none of that here. Everything was molded rather than seamed. “It’s Haute Couture without the Couture,” said Lagerfeld, tongue firmly in cheek. And yet there was look after look of a gorgeousness so exquisite it could only be achieved in ateliers that were accustomed to confronting the impossible—and mastering it. It must help that Lagerfeld always has the future in mind as he cherry-picks his way through the past. Take lace and coat it with silicone. Think pink, but think plastic, too. Tatter, shred, disrespect…and make something new. That was all in keeping with the much-touted youth-ifying of Couture. Sam McKnight’s hair and Maison Michel’s little hats perched pertly on the back of the models’ heads had the effect of a Haircut 100 cover from The Face circa 1982. The effect was compounded by Lagerfeld building his silhouette on shorts. There were coatdresses over shorts, jackets and skirts over shorts, plus the perfect shoes for shorts—sandals. Given the molded, sculpted nature of the clothes, Lagerfeld liked the ease of a flat. “The models can walk in those dresses like they’re nothing,” he said.

The show closed with a passage of long, chalk-white, almost penitent gowns, lavished with embroidery. The combination not only embodied the brutalist/baroque twinning of Lagerfeld’s inspiration, it also echoed the duality of Coco Chanel’s own life, the austerity of her professional self countered by the exotic orientalism of Coco at home. It made for a stunning contrast, matched only by the final foxtrot of Karl and his
seven-months-pregnant bride, the Kiwi model Ashleigh Good. “I like pregnant women,” he said, in keeping with his new cat-loving, godfather-ing public persona. “She looks so elegant, so noble.”
—Tim Blanks
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Chanel

May 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Fashion News


Our review will be posted shortly. See the complete collection by clicking the image at left.
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Chanel

May 9, 2013 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Chanel is on vacation. It’s part of the definition of its Cruise line, right there in the name. So Karl Lagerfeld led his legions to Singapore. It’s boiling here, 100 degrees in the shade, but that’s not to suggest Lagerfeld has slowed down a bit. On the contrary, he showed a collection—collection, he clarified, not pre-collection—as vast and various as any of his other ready-to-wear bounties. This one, though, in the spirit of Cruise, had a holidaying pluck. There was a fifties-inflected soundtrack, with snatches of Elvis and Yma Sumac courtesy of Michel Gaubert, and a bouncy ease to the key new silhouette of high-waisted, wide-leg trousers worn with what were essentially oversize T-shirts—though rendered, in appropriately luxe fashion, from white leather and tulle.

That half step toward laddishness—the pearl-trimmed sort championed by the young Coco Chanel, with her menswear fabrics and her suiting, her boys’ tailoring inspired by Boy’s tailoring—gave the collection its sprightly freshness. After the dark glamour of Fall, with its seductive, witchy toughness, this was a lark. But a summary doesn’t give Chanel’s craftsmanship its due: the oceans of beaded embroidery, the slick flash of latex-gilded lace, the pitch-black lacquer on Cara Delevingne’s plumed cape and skirt. Even Lagerfeld seemed struck by some of the feats. “I have a girl who works with me,” he said, “the genius behind all the Chanel materials…. I can tell you, she tortures the manufacturers. She is a tough cookie.” So says the toughest.

The question remained: Why Singapore? The label has six stores here, and many were quick to sniff out a play for the Asian market. But Lagerfeld only shrugged and suggested, in effect, that he’d been just about everywhere else. He’d taken inspiration from some elements of Singaporean culture—most notably, the traditional black-and-white woven curtains that adorn the island’s homes, which hung around the palatial venue and lent the collection its graphic palette—but further than that, Lagerfeld insisted his Singapore was a dream Singapore. He hadn’t researched, not really. “I research with instinct, you see. It has to be a vague impression, but don’t get into the details. Reinvent the details.”

But some details are too uncanny to invent. He had come across a photo of a Singaporean fisherman from 1880. “The top,” he said, “it’s a white jacket, black braids, and four pockets. It’s unbelievable. This man has a Chanel jacket.” Coco avant la lettre.
—Matthew Schneier
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Chanel

August 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Fashion News

Maybe it’s because he speaks so fast that there always seems to be a slight undertow of scorn in Karl Lagerfeld’s aperçus. “In fashion, the future is six months,” he practically spat after Chanel‘s Couture show today. That could be why he took New Vintage as his theme. “Vintage is depressing,” Lagerfeld clarified. “But ‘new vintage’ is something to come. It’s preparation for something that could last.”

The show was staged in the Grand Palais, as has become custom, but this time Lagerfeld used the Salon d’Honneur, a space that had been closed off for 70 years. The walls were painted, the ceiling and door surrounds customized to an interior design concept that Coco Chanel used in her original salon de couture. But here it was refreshed. “A renovation of the existing spirit for our time,” Lagerfeld said.

Renovation wasn’t, however, the thrust of the actual collection. It was far less jeune fille than it’s been of late. When Jamie Bochert and Stella Tennant stepped out on the catwalk, they looked like substantial women of character. Their clothes had a 1940’s line—broad shoulders, swingy coat, cape backs—in a color palette of black, gray, silver, and dusty pink that spoke of film noir interiors. Their hair also had a forties flavor, with a Rosie the Riveter snood. In other words, there was nothing new about this particular vintage. But it worked, in a gutsy, grown-up way. Lagerfeld’s portrait of Chanel adorned the invitation and, in keeping with that nod to heritage, the spine of the collection was suits. Except that the classic tweed was actually embroidery on tulle. Thousands of hours of handwork. Couture in excelsis.

Lagerfeld paired the suits with sparkling hose and wove silver through his “tweeds.” There was gilding galore. “These clothes are for a world of privileged people,” he said, with a hint of resignation (surely not scorn). And it was a wide world of clothes on display: an ethereal gilet spun from what looked like thistledown followed hard and less than coherently on the heels of a tracksuit in dégradé sequins. But that wayward abundance has always been the rule with Lagerfeld’s Chanel. And who knows how that tracksuit will look on the block at Sotheby’s in 50 years?
—Tim Blanks
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