The Choice – Chanel SS96

A few days ago I asked you on my Instagram stories to pick one of your favourite collections ever and I would make a collage with it. Here’s @kalalastrzelbicka’s choice: Karl Lagerfeld‘s spring-summer 1996 collection for Chanel. Months after this collection was shown, Vogue published “Fear of Fridays,” an article that spoke about the tailspin caused by the spread of the casual-Friday concept in business, one that gave rise to a new, more comfortable work uniform built around chinos. Lagerfeld swapped out the preppiness for a laid-back look, added a cropped T-shirt (which was certainly not work appropriate at that time…) and a belt or two, et voilà! Casual chic the Chanel way.

More of your choices are coming in the following days! If you missed the game, you can still write me your favourite collection and I will do the work. Got plenty of time. Culture isn’t cancelled, fashion isn’t cancelled!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The 2010s: Karl and Chanel

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Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Karl Lagerfeld & Chanel.

2019 saw the farewell to the visionnaire, the most prolific, joyous, assertive and energetic designer the world has known – Karl Lagerfeld. Although Lagerfeld worked on many projects simultaneously, from his namesake label to Fendi, it was his Chanel that always excited the most. This is the brand where he left his most expansive legacy. From the fantastic show venues (Chanel shopping centre, Chanel space-rocket, Chanel aquatic world, Chanel airport, the list seems to be endless) to Metiers d’Art locations (Edinburgh! Dallas! Salzburg! Moscow! New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art!) to the fashion campaigns (always photographed by him) to the label’s timeless, never boring, always consistent aesthetic (even if you haven’t been a fan, you should agree with this)… Karl owned Chanel. While the beat goes on with Virginie Viard, every show still feels as if something’s missing. A great loss. His soul is forever alive in the body of work he has left for generations to cherish.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Farewell, Karl. Chanel AW19

Chalet Camelia. Winter wonderland. Houndstooth coats and tweed hats. Luxe knits and eternal CC logo. Snowball skirts and Choupette fluffiness. Penelope Cruz, Cara Delevigne, Adesuwa, Maria Carla Boscono, Mica Arganaraz, Kaia Gerber, Anna Ewers, Adut Akech and the Chanel girls. Thousand of tears dropped, from Michel Gaubert’s minute of silence to the model’s finale walk (some couldn’t hold the tears). But you surely know all this.

I doubt Karl Lagerfeld would want his last show to be a fussy, overemotional event. His last show was exactly how he planned it to be: as if it was his next collection for Chanel, another fantasy. “Oh! It’s like walking in a painting!” Farewell to the visionnaire, the most prolific, joyous, assertive and energetic designer the world has known, whether you agree with this or not. But those are facts. What will next seasons look and feel like without him? I’ve got no idea. It seemed like he was always there. On the show’s invitation there was Lagerfeld’s last illustration, captioned: “the beat goes on!“. He wanted it to go on, so let’s all look forward to Virgine Viard’s future for Chanel.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Last of Karl. Fendi AW19

The news of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing away broke more than a week ago, and writing about his very final collection for Fendi seems like a struggle of using the right tense. It’s unbelievable he’s no longer here, with us. I always thought Karl will be present, forever. And just like that, it’s a season without him and his guaranteed, confident presence. Fendi’s autumn-winter 2019 was a tribute that wasn’t entirely a tribute, since Lagerfeld worked on majority of the collection – even though he was aware that his health is dangerously stumbling. After the models walked the runway, Silvia Venturini Fendi took a grieving bow. Karl’s last instruction given to Silvia was: “I want the bow” at the neck of the opening look. That was a nod to his own, unmistakable look. It’s difficult to write about the clothes from this collection as if this was just another Fendi collection. There was lightness in the pleated skirts. There was impressive craftsmanship involved, like the laser-cut “lattice” jackets and dresses. And, of course, there was the FF type face used on pretty much everything. It came from Karl’s calligraphy for the house from 1981. The models – most of them owe the designer their success by being his Fendi or Chanel muses – were visibly very emotional, but they walked their best, for Karl. Since 1965, he’s been at the helm of the brand – it’s probably the longest relationship between a brand and a designer in history – and now he’s gone. Venturini Fendi is taking the lead of the brand’s creative direction, but let’s leave the questions regarding the future of the brand for later. Rome, the city were Fendi was born, is in mourning: the brand’s flagship store on Via Condotti covered all of its window displays with Karl’s sketches of his designs for the house. Chanel faces the painful loss too, so does Paris.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Egypt in NYC. Chanel Pre-Fall 2019

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.

Hamburg. Chanel Pre-Fall 2018

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I adore Chanel‘s Métiers d’Art shows (which work as pre-falls) for the fact they really are about the clothes, not some temporary venues built in the Parisian Grand Palais. Well, the place of yesterday’s fashion show was more than important for Karl Lagerfeld – it was Hamburg, a port city in Germany which happens to be the designer’s birthplace. The building, where the show was staged – futuristic Herzog & de Meuron Elbephilharmonie – was a perfect backdrop for those refined, beautiful clothes. That certain kind of neat elegance, accompanied by classical orchestral music, felt very German. Maison Michel–made nautical tweed caps and navy Guernsey knits nicely matched the marine nature of Hamburg, which up to now was out of the fashion world’s radar. Seems like a perfect wardrobe for now – even though it hits the store late summer…

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Ritzy. Chanel Pre-Fall’17

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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.

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Couture – Fairy-Tale. Fendi AW16

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90th anniversary for Fendi is not just an anniversary. It’s an occasion to show off. And Karl Lagerfeld proudly celebrated the event during his last haute couture show for the Italian house, making the entire Rome gasp. The show was literally staged on Trevi Fountain, fresh off a $2.4 million rehab. Like in a fairy-tale, the models walked down a transparent, elevated runway, while Fellini-famed symbol of the eternal city has never looked that glamorous and fashionable. No doubt this fashion show will be remembered forever as one of the most magnificent and daring – this can be easily said about the fur creations, which graced the runway, too.

Since the very beginnings of the brand, Fendi was known for “fun fur” – the most fantastically decorated fur coats and jackets were delivered from Roman ateliers, pleasing the aristocratic Italian families and clients. Lagerfeld embraces Fendi’s specific, couture legacy through fourrure, and autumn-winter 2016 is his second one (the first one was also presented as a winter season last July). Words can’t describe the beauty of these masterpieces. A pink dress seemed to be made out of simple lace, but in fact it was Persian lamb with 5000 hand-cut holes. Mosaic-style scene of an enchanted forest was presented on a mink coat thanks to an old technique of stitching and cutting. Some dresses were appliquéd with hand-sculpted flowers from mink. Crotchet gowns oozed with antique chic, embroidered with long-hair mink and fringed leather. “This is what Fendi is all about. No other fur house in the world does it, or could do it” the creative director said during a press conference. That’s a true statement, Karl.

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Couture – Atelier. Chanel AW16

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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.

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