Chanel Haute Couture, sans ‘couture’ for Fall 2014

The looks seen on the runway at finale of the Chanel Couture F/w 2014 Show. Image EPA

Chanel’s F/w 2014 Haute Couture show took place in Belle Epoque greenhouse of the Grand Palais on June 2nd, all I can say is…

A look from the 2014 F/w Chanel Couture Show. Image RACHEL ZOE/THE ZOE REPORT

Oh. My. Gosh.

I think I might have died and gone to heaven!

The graphic train of the closing look of the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

The Chanel F/W 2014 collection was a huge production- it included over 70 looks and was shown during the course of two consecutive runway shows at the Grand Palais. This season, Karl Lagerfeld drew inspiration mainly from the work of architect Le Corbusier, added the rococo glamour of Marie Antoinette and stirred it all together with the uniform of a Tour-de-France cyclist from the 1980s. Fierce.

Looks from the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

The result was per-fection. Only Karl Lagerfeld could have pulled off a collection with so much going on. Tongue in cheek, or rather (in Kaiser Lagerfeld’s words), “Tongue in chic”…”very chic” is the only way to describe this offering, with the overall look being a mash up of stark modernist lines, opulent embellishments and punky ’80s silhouettes.

Looks from the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

It was an interesting lesson in control: dazzling beads and trompe-l’oeil embroideries were set against clean lines, while the more imposing, substantial clothes were practically worn without jewelery. Stiff, fussy skirts were matched with flat sandles, coatdresses were worn over shorts- as were jackets and skirts, regal dresses were paired with flip-flops.

Looks from the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

It’s a collection with a lot of separates- these pieces making up over two-thirds of the looks. Chanel’s persistence with a hefty separates segment suggests that this is one house where clients really come to buy a complete wardrobe- not just party frocks. Embellished tunics, shirtdresses, jackets, coats, tailored trousers, shorts (in tweed and silk), fur shrugs and a variety of skirts were all seen on the runway alongside all-out couture gowns.

Oh the separates! Looks to mix-and-match seen at the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

Oh the possibilities to mix-and-match!

Models backstage at the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

This season, futuristic technology was applied in an endless number of ways; lace was coated with silicone, tulle stiffened and bordered with strips of plastic, leather sandles tied with silk bows, a NEOPRENE bridal gown (gasp)! You’d think it would look crazy, but it all works!

Oh and what a gown it is! Karl Lagerfeld (left) kisses his pregnant bride, model Ashleigh Good, at the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

Things were molded rather than seamed… in that sense it takes away the literal meaning of the word couture: cutting and seaming. It’s remarkably futuristic, yet the Chanel workrooms produced look after look of such gorgeousness, that you really wonder if all the extensive seaming so common in couture is necessary! It’s overall unexpected, but very cohesive, with each unusual pairing- the collection as a whole, creating a beautiful sense of balance.

Modern technology meets vintage design at the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

The most startling feature of Chanel’s F/W 2014 couture shows was the use of concrete as an embellishment. In a tribute to Le Corbusier, who made concrete an integral part of modern architectural design, Mr. Lagerfeld incorporated tiny tiles of the stuff into beautiful mosaic embroideries that were added throughout the collection.

Who knew such a mundane material could be so chic? Concrete sits amongst more traditional luxurious embellishments adorning the outfits of Chanel’s 2014 F/w Couture Collection. Image GETTY

The styling was in keeping with the blended milieu of the collection; the perfect mix of regal chic and eccentric edginess. Flawless makeup met with punky 1980s ‘Peak Hair’, paired with jaunty little hats courtesy milliner Maison Michel, and the occasional oversized ring, gave an outcome that was both fabulous and offbeat… and completely refreshing.

The array of hats and hair seen at the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

A sparse colour scheme of black, white and grey with just a little red, gave one of the chicest- although by no means minimalist- pared-back Chanel collections in a while. It’s something incredibly new and very much in keeping with the trend of youth-ifying couture.

Looks from the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

This collection shows that the House of Chanel and its eponymous designer, Mr. Lagerfeld, continue to be at the forefront of luxury design, all the while keeping their roots firmly set in the past. Mr. Lagerfeld stays true to Chanel’s origins with boucles, wools and tartans, but rendering them in ways that are sleek, modern and easy to wear. Every season, Chanel manages to make heavy fabrics seem light, airy and almost weightless- and in this showing, they did it while adding concrete and molding to the clothing!

Looks from the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

It seems that Mr. Lagerfeld really has mastered the impossible with this collection. On the plainest level, the fact that he managed to cohesively pull together a collection so full of contrasts is an achievement in itself. On a more thoughtful note, his production not only mirrored the austerity and excess of his inspirations, it echoed the duality of Coco Chanel’s own life- her strict professional self countered by Coco at home, the exotic orientalist. What a tribute!

Looks from the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

The production value of the show was incredibly scaled back in this instance- a huge change from the extravaganzas of Chanel shows past. This time, the runway was left bare to mimic the stark geometry of Le Corbusier’s designs, with the only decoration being a pair of decorative mirrors and rococo fireplaces at each end of the catwalk. Shown to a small audience of 350, the spare surroundings really helped to draw the attention acutely to the clothes.

A view of the runway and stage setting at the Chanel 2015 F/w Couture Show. Image GETTY IMAGES

The Chanel F/W 2014 show was simply a stunning and meaningful way to pay homage to Le Corbusier. For the man who in the 1930’s designed an apartment where sharp modernity melded with 18th century rococo, with a view overlooking the Champs-Elysees, this collection couldn’t have been a better tribute. The juxtaposition of severity/overindulgence, modernism/antiquity and brutality/baroque made for a show that was provocative, thoughtful and oh-so-very Karl Lagerfeld!

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