Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.
Karl Lagerfeld sends out a hard, silvered, mirrored show that stood like a beacon of certainty in a shifting fashion (and real) world
26 Января 2017
The silver background and icy calm of the Chanel couture show was enough to send a shiver through the Grand Palais - even if the temperature in Paris was not already glacial.
Against a backdrop and a floor of converging mirrors like broken dreams, the models walked out in elegantly tailored clothes, always with some shimmering effect - from fragments in a hat to those Coco pearls. By the end of the show, the metallics were so powerful that an entire dress glistened, not just the silver shoes and the pearl bracelet around one ankle.
"Im-pecc-able - glitter, silver, something very shiny," said Karl Lagerfeld backstage, wearing a metallic jacket and everything from his gloves to the smartphone in his pocket, adding another silver flourish.
There was a further explanation - "Spoon Woman", not as in a silver spoon, but a reference to Alberto Giacometti's bronze statue from 1926 used to shape the new Chanel woman. That meant unexpected proportions, where the famous Coco tweed suit morphed into a new shape, or even into a dress, with a raised waist and a swell at the hips.
The main definition was that word "impeccable", with the small hats or hair short and plastered flat to the head, a belt at the high waist and the shiny, high-heeled court shoes. It was as if, in a shifting, uncertain world, Chanel fashion was the one thing holding its place. The effect was of an almost military precision
But it was all, of course, quintessentially and comprehensibly couture. Clients will look into the pieces and find that what looks simple is complex: not a tweed suit, but something woven by hand or shaped by folds at the front, or a fluff of pale pink feathers seemingly growing from the embroidery of a sparkling bodice held in by a wide, high belt. Another dress was apparently woven with rubber.
When I had seen the hats lined up they looked like Ladurée macaroons in their pastel colours, but Karl added a few shocks of colour: green and lilac for daytime suits or livid purple and deep blue for evening.
So what did it mean? Over his 35 year long career at Chanel, Lagerfeld's message since 1982 has swayed to and from its founder: sometimes a deliberate separation; sometimes a return to the brand's roots.
This is a spring/summer 2017 couture season, so there should be suits in black and white tweed or fondant pale colours. For all the metallic base, the decoration on evening dresses came lightly as frills of tulle or those wafting feathers.
"I am a little tired of couture designers coming out in jeans and a t-shirt", he said referring, surely, to Maria Grazia at Dior.
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