Chanel has a way of bringing things right back to where it matters most: Paris—the heart and soul of the esteemed French House. This year, Karl Lagerfeld travelled to Cuba for Chanel Cruise, taking the fashion cognoscenti to a land of intrigue and Latin sensuality. Earlier in the year, he gave everyone a front row seat at Chanel’s fall/winter 2016 show at the Grand Palais in Paris, while a summer showing in July in the same space delved deeper into the House’s know-how with an intimate recreation of the haute couture ateliers that showcased the incredible craftsmanship of fashion. For spring/summer 2017, he went cyborg crazy with a plastic fantastic colourful showing that tuned everyone into the digital age, at the same time reinterpreting the humble baseball cap in lush tweed to become one of the most sought-after accessories for the coming season.
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So, what did he have up his tweed sleeves for the pre-fall Métiers d’Art show? It was simple, to the point and hit the biggest aorta of Chanel’s heart—Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s home for 34 years in Paris. The Ritz, which recently reopened to much fanfare, closed its doors (practically impossible for anyone else but Chanel, bien sur) to the world’s fashion press for a one-day, three-show affair on 6 December. VIP guests including Willow Smith, her mum Jada Pinkett Smith, Korean superstar G-Dragon, Stella Tennant, French singer Dani and actress Julia Goldani Telles, French actor Gaspard Ulliel and actress Geraldine Chaplin (who has played the role of Coco herself in many of Lagerfeld’s mini movies), along with over 300 guests per session, came for lunch, tea or dinner service; with everyone seated around round tables dotting the main-floor bar, restaurant, library and winter garden.
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And what a show they were treated to: Superstar models included famous offspring like Lily-Rose Depp, Sistine Stallone, Georgia May Jagger and Alice Dellal were there to parade their wondrous confection of ’30s-by-way-of-the-’80s cropped bicycle shorts in gold lame worn with fitted tweed jackets with strong shoulders. But modernised on hip, young girls with enormous social media followings, nothing about this show—par the location—was old.
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References naturally went to the past—Chanel has a rich history, after all, and the signatures of the House like quilting, braiding, tweed, camellias and rows and rows of pearls were used to marvellous effect. Having Pharrell Williams walk the runway in his Chanel swag certainly made many hearts flutter and upped the digital impressions to stratospheric heights. All in all, this was a thoroughly French affair—to showcase the impeccable craftsmanship of the 10 metiers d’art ateliers. But under the hands of Karl Lagerfeld, who has been at the creative helm of the House for more than 30 years, the fashion is always referential but never ever antique. Heeled brogue shoes worn with tiered tulle skirts gave a toughness to the collection. Quilted silk puffa jackets worn with gowns made the ultimate statement of sports luxe, while gold lame fashioned into below-the-knee skirt suits gave a sophistication and a lovely liquid sensuality to an otherwise trashy ’80s disco-diva staple. Of course, with the brilliant Michel Gaubert at the decks, spinning Rah Band’s “Clouds across the Moon”, a light-hearted pop ditty about a trip to Mars, this intergalactic cyber happy collection of fun, fierce fashion brought all the world to Paris. Finished with the twinkling Eiffel Tower embroidered in shiny rainbow paillettes on a polka dotted silk party dress, we never for a moment forgot Chanel’s delicious Gallic charm.
Watch our Facebook Live with EIC Kenneth Goh as he recaps the highlights of the Chanel Metiers d’Art show:
By Kenneth Goh