Karl Lagerfeld is today’s Renaissance Man.
Over the years I have visited upon fashion week after fashion week enjoying shows and observing new trends and every year there is one show that I anticipate more than any other – the Chanel show.
The reasoning behind this? Well, this is a show that is all about fashion and yet is so much more than fashion itself.
It’s a production and I would hate to see what the bill comes to by the end of each sitting.
Chanel is renowned for it’s incredible show sets. In the past we’ve seen merry-go-rounds, vast steel sculptures of organ pipes, larger than life perfume bottles, catwalks in Venice, Italy on the beach, faux Chanel store fronts and models of Chanel jackets the size of small buildings - all displayed as backdrops for Lagerfeld’s beauties.
Since 2006 Karl has used the Grand Palais in Paris to showcase his designs and enormous sets. Most in the fashion world have grown accustomed to his stark white set designs which allow the models to pop out from the backdrop in their Chanel designs.
But he must have woken up one morning and thought it was time for a change. Perhaps it was the newly purchased house in Vermont, on Lake Champlain, that opened his eyes to new frontiers. Or was it a world that seems obsessed with organic farms? Whatever the reason, this year we were presented with a set like none before.
It was one that not only affected perceptions of the fashion on display but also the attitude of those showcasing the clothes. For the first time that I can remember the Chanel models walked with a bit of a swagger.
They had wide smiles and they generally looked they were having a good time – especially the three at the close of the show who were having a little romp in the hay for all the world to see.
So what was this grand design? None other than a great big barnyard with a giant Chanel logo branding the structure! That’s right folks. Models paid in six figure sums were trudging out of a haystack through dirt in their fresh-from-the-cobbler Chanel heels. Lily Allen even popped up with a band to serenade them as they walked.
When I first saw the set I thought Karl would be presenting clothes with the same attitude as was seen at Ralph Lauren or Jean Paul Gaultier – one with an urband feel. What a surprise then to find the usual chic wear presented against such a natural background.
He has once again taken the classic Chanel jacket and given it a redesign. Tweeds and Ruffles were abundant. Accessories were displayed that will have women queuing globally. Karl Lagerfeld was perhaps trying to tell us that we can still be ladylike and sophisticated in a green world. I’ve never seen so much nude in a show by Lagerfeld but it worked wonders with the classic tweeds rather than just looking like a burlap sack – which could have been the case. There are easily a dozen suits suitable for any and every occasion.
Suzy Menkes of the New York Times summed it up best when she said “not since the banks busted their credit ratings has a runway collection expressed such a fashion joie de vivre and a dizzying desire to buy.”
The designs were what we have come to expect from the great Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Coco would be proud.