Oh to be a Chanel girl! To travel to far flung locations for the annual Métiers d’Art extravaganza. To be part of Karl’s couture clad coterie of international beauties. Hell, I’d settle for shared custody of a Chanel handbag and be pretty darned thrilled with my lot! Especially if it was one of the drop dead delectable designs Monsieur Lagerfeld delivered for SS14.
A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited along to Chanel’s London HQ to
ogle view a selection from the Spring collection. Getting the chance to pour over the new season pieces was, for want of a better word, awesome. It only further served to confirm what I already knew to be true; Chanel is an extraordinary brand and Karl Lagerfeld is an extraordinary man. As you all know and are probably thoroughly bored of hearing about, for the past two-and-a-bit years I’ve been studying Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins. Learning more than I ever thought possible about dress from the Renaissance through Tudors, Stuarts and Victorians was incredible. But what really had me in raptures was the 20th century stuff, especially in the case of Maisons like Chanel. Over a century may have passed since Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel scandalised and then seduced with the androgynous elegance of her menswear inspired designs. Through a combination of creative vision, craftsmanship and fearless business practices (Coco certainly would not have needed to read “Lean In”) Chanel was born and today it continues to enthral new generations of women, while retaining the impeccable quality and effortless chicness that keeps dedicated customers coming back to brand decade after decade. Nailing this near impossible balancing act is a true testament to the sartorial genius that is Karl Lagerfeld who, in the politest possible way, also cropped up relatively early in 20th century fashion history making his flair for capturing the contemporary zeitgeist all the more impressive.
As everyone knows, Chanel shows are always something of a spectacle. So what do you do when you’ve already done indoor ice bergs, wind farms, solar panels and the life aquatic? You turn your show space into an art gallery, well, duh. And then you fill it with your own creations. I’m not even going to begin wondering how in God’s one finds the time to design 75 art installations on top of running three major fashion brands so let’s just talk about the clothes instead. In the tradition of taking Chanel’s rich heritage and turning it on its head, this season saw the house’s iconic tweeds woven from ribbons of chiffon, organza, lace and plastic threads, frayed or even torn on some occasions.
Stretch knit crêpe de Chine came lace printed with motifs in silicone, while elsewhere garments were adorned with intricate pearl embroideries and painstakingly detailed trims galore. And then there were the colours! Naturally Chanel’s signature monochrome palette was featured but elsewhere there was a riot of eye popping confections. Pastels, neon brights, denim, bleaching, you name it. The iconic jackets introduced by Mademoiselle Chanel herself came reimagined slim and sleeveless and sleek and belted as well as oversized and re-proportioned. Never have I seen a house so seamlessly combine its past and its future.
Love Ella. X