Karl Lagerfeld is a designer known for his surprises, but nothing could have prepared the world for what he delivered in this collection! Eco- friendly Chanel is what made it’s way down the Spring 2016 Haute Couture runway, and judging from the show it’s not as far fetched an idea as you would immediately imagine. Wood shavings, raw cotton, recycled paper and organic yarn were all used in the construction of the garments- strange materials for Couture- but the resulting look is as dreamy and beautiful as anything you’d expect to see on a runway from this hallowed house.
It’s Chanel, so it goes without saying that each handmade piece took infinite hours of work to construct, using only the finest techniques. The outcome was spectacular. “This is high-fashion ecology. It must not look like some sloppy demonstration!” Mr. Lagerfeld quipped backstage. Wooden chips and beads, recycled paper and raw yarn were used as adornment, but they were joined by translucent pailettes, intricate embroideries, 3-D appliqués, metallic lace, and extensive pearl and crystal beading. The clothes themselves had raw materials- hessian rope, straw, raffia, twine, raw cotton and linen woven into the fabric alongside glittery gold threads, all appearing in a natural palette of earthy beiges. Coco Chanel was famously dubbed the “Queen of Beige” and this collection certainly covered it’s full spectrum.
There were honey bees everywhere- both as metallic embroideries and forged clips and earrings, and they provided the grounding theme of embellishment. From there sparked intricate honeycomb embroideries and textural, almost graphic fabric weaves. The honey bee has become a rallying issue for environmentalists and it was quite gratifying to see Mr. Lagerfeld taking up the cause in his own way by making them a key player in his beautiful vision.
It’s clear that the designer strove to imbue a type of Zen-like harmony into the design alongside the idyllic serenity of the overall presentation. For Spring 2016 he favoured long shapes and relaxed silhouettes, with few sculptural accents. There was a definite Asian flair to the clothes, with robe-like wrap coats, long trailing sleeves, loose tunics with Mao collars, silk pajamas and sculptural sleeves that referenced open fans… details that enhanced the relaxed mood and imbued the collection with a sense of airy lightness.
The details truly drove the airy point home: tulle frothed from skirt slits, hemlines dissolved into fringe or faded into gossamer net, lace ruffles covered bolero jackets, slippery silks and filmy organza were gathered and pleated into voluminous, light-as-air bell sleeves and bodices. Just beautiful!
Mr. Lagerfeld started the show with a calm appropriate to his motif by celebrating the suit in variations of long silhouettes. Chanel staples- the bouclé jacket, the tweed suit, the ladylike pencil skirt- appeared softer this time, stretched into preternaturally slender silhouettes and topped with rounded shoulders and curved collars. His favorite jacket- short and trim with voluminous sleeves- topped two revamped skirt shapes; a subtly- flared pleated version that fell directly from the waist, and an ultraslim sheaf made with double tiers and split with side or back slits.
As the show progressed, everything got even lighter and shinier with ruffled blouses, loose tunics, flared trousers, beaded vests and embellished sheaf dresses appearing as the collection transitioned to evening wear. It was simply dazzling!
Party frocks of every form appeared throughout the evening display, interspersed with gossamer tunics, slinky skirts, silk pajamas and sculptural jackets. The evening wear was very well thought out and provided options that ranged an entire spectrum of fashionable appeal; looks ranged from angelic (flowing tunics and sheafs with high necklines and modest hems), to sultry (slinky slipdresses), to decidedly laid back (unfettered pyjama trousers and loose evening blouses) and there was enough sparkle and embellishment to appease even the most discerning diva’s tastes.
True showstoppers came in a series of looks topped off with shimmering, gilded organza capes. Worn over pailette-encrusted gowns and embellished pantsuits, these capes moved with the lightest breath of air to create mesmerizingly beautiful looks with high dramatic appeal.
I’m a lover of high drama and those confections are now at the top of my fashion lust list- they’re gorgeous!
As for accessories, spectator shoes on sculptural cork wedges fit the eco theme, as did the show’s jewelry- bee shaped broaches and earrings! As for the latest Chanel bag, a waist-slung pouch sized to hold just the essentials appeared, covered in as much adornment as the garments themselves. They’re environmentally conscious fab!
It was a beautiful show all round, and as always, a touching way to pay homage to Coco Chanel’s memory. Fashion is always recycling its own past, as it was wonderfully done here at Maison Chanel. This time Mademoiselle Chanel’s touch was seen more than ever in every aspect of the collection, from the silhouettes to the colour scheme, but all interpreted through the masterful eyes of Karl Lagerfeld.
We have to take a minute to discuss the show’s staging. Mr. Lagerfeld outdid himself and transformed the Grand Palais into a summertime utopia complete with evergreen lawns, a lily pond, a wood- slat hut, and a calm blue sky. The illusion was flawless! It was a perfect day in Cocoland. Celebrating nature with garments that are the apogée of purest artifice seems well in keeping with the character of a designer who always displays a finely tuned appreciation of irony, yet the collection- and the way in which it was shown- was so much the antithesis of all things fast and disposable that it actually worked in the sense of couture Eco-consciousness.
One thing’s absolutely for certain: while the turf lining Grand Palais will go to compost and the temporary pavilion wood will be re-purposed, the precious garments on this runway will never be destined to end their lives in a landfill. They’ll be worn again and again, kept and recycled as loved heirlooms.
Très écologique et chic.
Xx – Ana