“Haute Couture is Paris,” says Karl Lagerfeld in prepping Chanel’s fall/winter 2018/19 Haute Couture collection. “Haute Couture is a way of making dresses and we are lucky to have ateliers that know how to do everything.” The ateliers that he mentioned is, of course, includes the specialise houses that Chanel has been acquiring for the past few years. The dresses are made in the studio just right above Chanel’s rue Cambon boutique. The shoes are worked on by the House of Massaro, just a few avenues down. Gloves are by Causse. The embroideries seen on the Couture pieces are by Montex and Lesage. And the embellishments are by the House of Lemarié.
The working order in the couture atelier goes like this; Karl Lagerfeld’s sketch is interpreted first as a pattern in ecru cotton toile. During this initial phase of pattern to mannequin, the Premières (head seamstresses) renders the silhouette of the sketch three dimensional by following Karl Lagerfeld’s indications, until the exact silhouette is realised. It is, then, tried on by a House fitting model and subject to the approval of Karl Lagerfeld. The toile is then reproduced in the fabric chosen by Karl Lagerfeld. During assembly the pieces are tried on a bust to check that the proportions and silhouette as imagined by Karl Lagerfeld is respected. Then the finishing touches are made, the garment is sewn together and lined.
“What I love is that I have the possibility of creating anything I want, in the best possible condition, with the best people. This is immense luxury,” says Karl Lagerfeld.
Very attached to the capital city, Karl Lagerfeld pays tribute to the city of Paris. The colour palette of the collection is inspired by Paris in autumn; the pale grey of zinc rooftops, anthracite of street asphalt, black and a deep nocturnal navy, gold and silver reflections of the Moon in the rippling Seine. The pale pink and mauve of sunrise, the white, ecru and beige of cloudy mornings, the almond green of the roofs of historic buildings, all reinforce the gentle panoramic view of the city. Crystal embroideries used on the dresses are aligned like cobblestones, tulles netted and embroidered with gold recalling the padlocks on the Pont des Arts. All of these sound like a declaration of love to a city of fashion and culture, to a rich historical heritage.
The fabric used runs the gamut of tweed (classic or plumetis), flannel, velvet, crêpe, lace, taffetas, radzimir and chiffon. The silhouette adopts an original central theme: a zip embellished with braid splits the profile of skirts and jackets with narrow sleeves, sometimes framing them completely. The zips on long or knee-length skirts reveal a mini-skirt while those on the jackets expose an enhanced waist and, on the arms, long colourful fingerless gloves. The iconic suit alternates with trompe-l’oeil dresses and long coats. Jackets are also teamed with pleated skirts. Chiffon blouses, high band collars, lace tops, and others with plastrons embroidered with sequins, beads and crystals, further enrich the collection.