Chanel aims high with starry ‘Eiffel Tower’ Paris show
PARIS — The ever-audacious Karl Lagerfeld proved he is still nimble when it comes to putting on a fashion show.
The 83-year-old had a 46-ton Eiffel Tower recreated inside the Grand Palais for the pleasure of his Chanel couture celebrity guests. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo returned the love by presenting him with the city’s highest honour — the “La Medaille Grand Vermeil” — at the fall-winter 2017 shows Tuesday at Paris Haute Couture Week.
The German-born Lagerfeld was given the award for service to the city he’s called home for seven decades, beneath the Eiffel Tower replica.
“Paris gives you its thanks and its love through this Grand Silver Gilt medal ... which is our city’s highest award,” Hidalgo said in front of a celebrity audience, including models Claudia Schiffer and Cara Delevingne. “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Paris loves you. You are Paris.”
Lagerfeld, a contemporary of the late fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent, has been at the forefront of Paris fashion since the 1960s, designing for Chloé before taking over Chanel in 1983. Although he doesn’t see himself as French, the designer professed his love for the City of Light. “I am a foreigner and I intend to stay a foreigner because foreigners see Paris and France through a different eye,” he said, accepting the award. “And when you are not French, you look without nationalism or patriotism ... Long live Paris.”
The wood-and-steel tower, which took workers six weeks to make, was a stunning piece of craftsmanship. It copied nearly beam for beam the columns and metal twists of the edifice made by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Universal Exhibition.
Chanel goes turn-of-the-century
The dawn of the 20th century — the period following the Eiffel Tower’s construction — was the creative touchstone for Chanel’s winterylooking couture.
The first model strode out in sunlight filtered by wrought-iron columns to set the tone of the graphic, steel-coloured collection. She wore a wide-hipped, charcoal grey coat with exaggerated leg-of-mutton arms — styles that hearkened to the Belle Époque period.
This clever historic musing continued with flattened bowler hats and black patent lace-up ankle boots popular before the First World War. Flourishing bouquets of plumes then shot out from wrists, ankles and shoulders in evening wear.
“In this collection, there are feathers treated like fur,” Lagerfeld explained.
But the designer relied on myriad references for a show whose one unifying theme might have been simply the Parisienne. “It’s a vision of a revived Parisian woman. It is all about cut, shapes, silhouettes.”
Signature tweed jackets were reimagined as long tunics, or cropped and double-breasted.
Then it got arty. Mechanical Art Deco motifs gave a 1920s flair to black frou-frou gowns that evoked the paintings of Robert Delaunay. Their frothy, flower embellishments at the hem gave the silhouette a vibrant dynamic.
Mini-dresses in tweed, retro bateau collars and bows under the bust mixed in a dash of the 1960s. Thigh-high boots added a hint of contemporary provocation.
Giorgio Armani Privé
Kate Winslet, Isabelle Huppert, Priyanka Chopra and Italian cinema icon Sophia Loren led the front row at Giorgio Armani Privé’s demure yet playful collection.
As ever, it was classic glamour. The leitmotif of small cone hats and sensual face veils gave the silken 61piece show a feel for the theatricality of the 1920s.
Large black neck ruffs evoked a harlequin. And a black cape with fuchsia floral embroideries was conceived by the fashion legend in gargantuan proportions — visually overpowering the model’s body.
But Armani’s fall-winter couture silhouette was all about the chest. An open menswear tuxedo jacket with peaked shoulders exposed the flesh underneath. Elsewhere, a neckline on a pale blue top plunged daringly and was given a tasteful lift with a broach detail under the bust.
Beautiful black gowns in organza and satin — with huge full skirts — also exposed the shoulders and the chest.
From Chanel’s Haute Couture fall-winter 2017 fashion collection presented at the Grand Palais in Paris.
From the Giorgio Armani Privé Haute Couture fall-winter 2017 show as part of Haute Couture Paris Fashion Week.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo with fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld after presenting him with the Grand Vermeil medal.