Chanel‘s Métiers d’Art shows are the only ones I look at. I love the craftsmanship involved here – it’s different level comparing to the ridiculous ready-to-wear collections, but looks more wearable than in the couture outings. This time, Karl Lagerfeld took his guests to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to pull off an Ancient Egypt-inspired collection. To be honest, most of the clothes looked hideous and even the beauty of the surrounding tombstones and artifacts couldn’t hide this fact. BUT. Some of the details were impressive. The Amarna-inspired make-up. The gold-painted legs of every model. And the opulent appreciation of jewels and everything that’s shiny – a feature of every Egyptian king and queen. Would today’s Nefertiti dress in a Chanel tweed jacket made out of golden threads? Absolutely yes. But will real Chanel customers be able to wear any of this without looking ‘dressed up’ for a theme party? Who knows.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Whenever Chanel does a pre-collection presentation, you know every single detail regarding it a month earlier. The press is burning with the show’s fancy, far-fetched location; Instagram feed is all in #chanel. This time, however, Karl Lagerfeld and the legendary French maison decided to slow it down a bit with their PR – or at least, stay at home. And specifically, in the newly re-opened Ritz hotel on Place Vendome, just a few steps away from the brand’s flagship store on rue du Cambon. Although you can’t call this ‘modesty’, going a bit more traditional than usual is simply… reasonable.
In fact, there were three Chanel shows in one day – the first was presented during a chic brunch; the second started at the time of lunch; and the last during a fancy dinner. The guests (everybody from the fashion editors to couture clients) had a way better day than you, that’s for sure. The clothes were excellent comparing to the last few seasons where Karl did literary everything, from a faux women’s protest to a glossy IT room. I guess it’s because Chanel looks best, when worn in real Paris, rather than in non-sense, meaningless venues. The dining rooms of Ritz perfectly matched Lagerfeld’s vision of cosmolitan elegance. Slouchy knitted cardigans and tweed pencil skirts; black tulle dresses styled with deluxe duvet jackets; shoulder pads and layers of pearl necklaces. According to the designer, the collection was an reflection of and ode to “people from all over the world who’ve come to the Ritz. There were hundreds of dinners in the ’20s and ’30s, where women wore incredible things.” But the most intriguing thing about this collection is the lack of the ’60s’, ’70s’ or ’90s’ tags, which are overused by others in the industry. “You cannot tell from the collection what decade it is, and I think that is modern“. Good point.
Chanel venue productions are always over-the-top fancy, and always too unreal. But for autumn-winter 2016, Karl Lagerfeld decided to make his haute couture show an actual haute couture atelier. The legendary petites mains from Rue Cambon were transported to Grand Palais with all their sewing machines, becoming a living and breating setting for the models.
“Behind the girls in the show, there are 200 more who make what they wear—that’s quite a lot, no?—and I thought we should show them to the public too.” For this season’s couture, Chanel praised the women who are behind all the coveted tweed pantsuits, duchesse satin dresses and floriform embroidery. However, it seems like the heart of the house was exposed to the crowd; the intimacy of couture-making was disturbed for good, being suddenly photographed and tagged for social media. And surely, producing such venue is a desperate move to steal the spotlight.
But let’s not forget about the clothes, or rather wearable pieces of art. Although first looks were very classical and very Coco, the gowns which were emerging from the “atelier” oozed with drama. Black, tulle gown worn by Molly Bair with an exaggerated collar looked spectacular, while Edie Campbell’s closing look, so an embellished, pink coat with feathers on the back, was ethereal. The concept is ambiguous; the dresses are great. Quite average, as for Chanel.