(images via style)
sometimes, as i sit pawing through the latest chanel collection, i wonder whether i’m tired of all the fawning because it’s simply required, or is it because it’s actually deserved?
trying for a more toned-down (by chanel standards) show this time around, karl lagerfeld presented his pre-fall 2011 collection at the brand’s couture studio above the rue cambon store in paris. so you know, that equates something like madonna washing dishes in dolce & gabbana’s ads. high-end folk letting us know that even when they let their hair down…and we’re supposed to laugh at the irony of it all, whilst they look at us with questions in their eyes. well. they should know that we know they know.
anyway, this round was inspired by byzantium and empress theodora (yes, the one in this mosaic and frankly i’m surprised that the lot has taken till now to plunder. well.), with the designer announcing, “Theodora was a circus artist who became empress, like Chanel, who was a little singer and became a fashion empress.” (ed note: she was also rumoured to have been a prostitute, something the historians among us can look on a little mirthfully as we take in the whole spectacle.)
if all that is beginning to sound a little stuffy to the girl who loves the scruffier side of chanel, the one that appeals to the olson twins & lily allen, well, fear not! of course karl is too clever an artisan to leave us with piles of musty robes, even adorned with jewels though they may be, and took us to what might have been a 1960s film set on the subject, ready to capture the whole of the culture’s heyday, but isn’t it grand if a little of the swingin’ decade manages to climb aboard as well?
thus, we were greeted with little coats, embroidered headbands to keep the puff of hair at bay, day suits, square buttons, boots, and all the rest that the house does so well; just enough of a nod to the past, to the decade framing the whole lot, then a quick flash back to coco and her own framework, set in dazzling new tones that keep the masses always begging for more, something so appropriate in their closet, yet redefined once again!
isn’t it formulaic, you say? well, yes, it is, because karl knows what his girls want and give it to them, again & again, ever with new twists to keep him just ahead of the pack, and though it should be boring, would be at most labels, his work is ever-enchanting.
probably a lot of fashion people will ponder long & hard over why this is. isn’t that the eternal question, after all, what keeps chanel steps beyond the others in the game? but i think it’s a rather easy question, one that can be answered simply by looking closer at the clothes. the enthusiasm, the care, is as ever woven into the very threads of each garment. while others panic about staying ahead, staying sharp, worrying always about profit margins, karl, it seems, keeps his thoughts on making the most exquisite clothes he can manage, the best that might be found.
and ultimately, that reads clearer than all marc jacobs’ fancy posturing at vuitton, or john galliano’s attempts at irony at dior. in the end, they report to m. bernard arnault, who is nothing beyond his bank statements. and they know that, we know that. but chanel, has never felt it worries about that. perhaps it does, somewhere, although then again, more likely it has never had to worry, like when one lets go of thoughts of fitting in, and suddenly becomes the coolest in school. being above the worries suddenly grants it that status.
my sole complaint, if i may venture one, was that there wasn’t much in the understated luxury category, this spin through the wash. though chanel is superior with all things bejeweled, it has always been the type of house that can turn out a stunning-if-subtle white blouse, as well, and it wouldn’t hurt to chuck a couple of those out to the girls that don’t like to wear their checking account (of jewel box, as it were) on their sleeve. but perhaps those are always available for those who can pay, languishing on a couturier’s table, just for the asking.
in the end, though, the designer has, as ever, restructured the playground for the rest of the kids to consider, for another three months at least. it must get tiring for the lot of them. no wonder the rumors of his retirement incessantly persist.
(check the full video out here)