Tag Archives: Karl Lagerfeld

A Milestone

If each post written were to represent each year lived, this would be my centenary.

100.

Whilst I await a congratulatory telegram from the Queen, we should perhaps get on with the show and make it suitably marvellous.

And what, perchance, could be better than Chanel Haute Couture?

Beneath the ornate cupola of the Grand Palais and the gaze of a behemothic lion statue – a towering homage to the house’s late founder, Coco Chanel, a Leo – models emerged onto the runway from an oversized ‘pearl’ globe. Another Chanel signature, it augured a collection of equally grandiose theatricality.

Transporting and folkloric, the clothes summoned all the opulence and romantic nostalgia of Romanov Russia. An Old Order charm, if you will. 

Cropped tweed jackets wearing bracelets of nutria fur and artisanal bronze buttons, velvet and wool tailoring, overdone rounded shoulders, and a saturated colour card of autumnal navy, wine red, toffee, and brown – without so much a whisper of traditional Chanel black – have me think of literary characters such as Anna Karenina and long sweeping journeys on the Trans-Siberian railway. 

Where dark colour and heavy fabric conspired to make the clothes seem matronly and oppressively aristocratic, youthful modernity was imparted with brambled hair and skin bare but for the kiss of slut-red raspberry lips.

Neither my taste nor Lagerfeld at his best – the less said about the wrinkled ‘Nora Batty’ stocking boots, the better – it is perhaps telling that I have only chosen to picture accents of handwork and ornamentation rather than full ensembles. 

A cream dress gave the illusion of being constructed entirely from pearl beadwork. Cuffs were gilded with a cacophony of chains and precious stones. More befitting a Fabergé egg, baroque tapestries came embellished with delicate vines of imperial gold embroidery. It was this craftmanship – this extraordinary regalia of human art and endeavour –  that salvaged the collection.

With each passing season, it has increasingly seemed that the spirit and aesthetic of ‘Coco’ Chanel wanes.

In 1926, her friend and contemporary, Jean Cocteau, produced a cartoon to exemplify contemporary fashion. Focus went to a sylphlike and insouciant garconne – attired in a plain jersey dress, a scribble of ink jewellery her only adornment – whilst, in the background, an elderly matron retreated from the page in a burdensome fur coat. The drawing was accompanied by one laconic annotation, ‘Poiret s’eloigne – Chanel arrive’: Poiret – the most celebrated designer of the Twenties – departs as Chanel arrives.

Were Cocteau to draw today, it would be Chanel departing with her neat, iconic tweed suit and coterie of little black dresses.*

I question whether this change of design ‘sea air’ results simply from Lagerfeld asserting his own artistic legacy more aggressively or from the need, in an uncertain economic world, to be expedient and make decisions that pander to prevalent commercial markets.

Whatever the cause, with this particular haute couture collection, Chanel was not so much the house that roared as the one that quietly purred.

A milestone, indeed.

* Is it not ironic, then, that the lion and pearl – both powerful symbols of Coco – stole the show?

|The Fashion Spot|
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The Blues

This is perhaps only my perception – and, frankly, what do I know? – but it sometimes seems that Cruise and Resort collections excite remarkably scant attention.

Well, let’s remember, we are all supposed to be on holiday and really not giving a f*ck anyway!

With the Sénéquier Café in St-Tropez its illustrious background, the Chanel 2011 Cruise collection was unveiled last week, and – as the luxe bohemian aesthetic and diaphanous psychedelic dresses left me cold – I too, a girl of ordinarily so very many words, have struggled to muster commentary.

Whilst the characterful and eclectic mix of models – including a deliciously Rubenesque Crystal Renn and gap-toothed Georgia May Jagger reincarnated as a teenage Brigitte Bardot – inspired a little, my interest was piqued for one exceedingly small and powder blue reason.

The nail colour.

I will only follow a trend if Peter Philips commands me. 

It might explain why, as a girl who once believed that nail polish beyond classic red was simply fashion vagary, I often sport a number of his kaleidoscopic creations from the cadaverous mushroom of Particuliere to the neon shock of Nouvelle Vague.

My past experiences of trying to source a cult Chanel colour – having been one of the first to join Selfridge’s wait list for the aforementioned Nouvelle – taught that demand will be maddeningly high when bottles of this as-yet unnamed “blue anise” arrive on beauty counters next winter. 

So consider this a call to rally… and stop twiddling those prettily painted thumbs!

|The Fashion Spot|

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