Chanel goes on an epic Texan ad­ven­ture for its lat­est Métiers d’art collection, staged on a rodeo-chic run­way.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - The News Bazaar - By Natasha Kraal.

An icy snow­storm in Dal­las, re­port­edly one of the worst in 60 years, was not part of Karl Lager­feld’s elab­o­rate pre­sen­ta­tion. Cross-con­ti­nen­tal flights were can­celled, roads were slip­pery, and planes de­toured – the one com­ing in from Paris with show mod­els and Chanel ex­ec­u­tives di­verted to Hous­ton, where the en­tourage then bused it four hours down to the Texan me­trop­o­lis. Ev­ery thought of cow­boy-land was brought down to a sub-zero re­al­ity check, where red-hot tacos and black Chanel puffas did lit­tle to warm the 900plus guests in town for Chanel’s lat­est fash­ion fan­tasy. But the Kaiser be­ing the ul­ti­mate ring­mas­ter made sure the show went on, and a dang good one at that. ParisDal­las Pre-Fall ’14 was an ut­terly Chanel take on the Wild West, where this 11th Métiers d’Art show – an an­nual demi-cou­ture collection fea­tur­ing the crafts­man­ship of its 10 ar­ti­san work­shops, held at sto­ried des­ti­na­tions from Is­tan­bul to Scot­land – was styled af­ter his­tor­i­cal Amer­i­cana. “It’s the idea of old Texas, even be­fore the Civil War,” Lager­feld ex­pressed, with a hint of ro­man­ti­cism; a time when cow­boys were “very so­phis­ti­cated”.

The pre­lude to the show held at the Dal­las Fair Park, a na­tional his­toric build­ing of Art Deco ar­chi­tec­ture, was the first sur­prise: a retro drive-in movie pre­mier of Lager­feld’s film The Re­turn star­ring Geral­dine Chap­lin as Gabrielle Chanel. Guests sat in gleam­ing vin­tage col­lectible cars, and snacked on clas­sic Amer­i­cana fare of Cracker Jack, Milk Duds, and Coca-Cola served by soda shop boys on bi­cy­cles. The 20-minute short was Lager­feld’s semi-fic­tional biopic on Coco Chanel’s re­turn to fash­ion af­ter her hia­tus dur­ing World War II. Piv­otal to the plot was Stan­ley Mar­cus – scion of the Neiman Mar­cus re­tail em­pire – wel­com­ing Mlle Chanel to Dal­las in 1957 and award­ing her with the pres­ti­gious Neiman Mar­cus Award. (The day af­ter this ParisDal­las show, Lager­feld was awarded with the same hon­our). Amer­ica was the place where Chanel was al­ready a fa­mous name for the commercial suc­cess of N˚5, for dress­ing up Hol­ly­wood stars, and for her mod­ern fash­ion. “I ad­mire and love Amer­ica. It’s where I made my for­tune,” she has said. “For many Amer­i­cans, I am France.”

This made the his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of Dal­las for Chanel’s spe­cial collection – a mo­ment Lager­feld called ‘Coco Chanel: Back in Dal­las’ – and of course for the fan­tasy it af­forded him. For the show, he recre­ated an elab­o­rate rodeo barn arena, cov­ered in hay and dec­o­rated with Con­fed­er­ate flags, where guests sat in tiered wooden stands ready to be trans­ported to Dal­las circa 1890 – an era of feath­ered head­pieces, prairie skirts, pon­chos, Navajo jew­ellery, and leather chaps, depend­ing if you were play­ing Cow­boy or In­dian. Or both, where many looks were ex­quis­ite hy­brids, ac­cen­tu­ated with Chanel sig­na­tures of tweed, camel­lias, ruf­fles, and pearls. Per­haps bor­der­ing on be­ing cos­tume-like, but throw off the stet­son or Sante Fe boots and ev­ery­thing looked chic, and fash­ion­ably mod­ern.

The iconic Chanel suit opened the show, sober mi­dlength ver­sions worn with boxy jack­ets with em­broi­dered-and-tas­selled cuffs, which then evolved into an ex­u­ber­ant ar­ray of fringed, denim, feath­ered, and ruf­fled ver­sions styled with knit pon­chos and jewelled but­tons by Des­rues. The western sad­dle gave form to jack­ets ad­ven­tur­ously peaked at the shoul­ders, and on quilted leather sad­dle bags tas­selled to the hilt. Boots were the or­der of the day, made by ar­ti­san shoe­mak­ers Mas­saro: one ver­sion with trompe l’oeil styling fea­tured dec­o­ra­tive em­broi­dery on tights, to re­sem­ble Western boots when worn with black jew­ellery-buckle pumps. Then there was a Chanel-quilted pis­tol holder, and logo-and-star stamped back­packs – novel show cre­ations that have sparked wait­ing lists from South­fork to Shang­hai. “It’s made in an ar­ti­san way, in the very best sense of that word, be­cause in ar­ti­san there is ‘art’. The art of do­ing things well. An ap­plied art,” Lager­feld ex­plained.

And what’s Western style with­out high blue rodeo denim, some patch-worked and worn with mini cardigans, las­soes of pearls and sil­ver jew­ellery; oth­ers cut into Prairi­estyle pinafores with white cot­ton tiered pet­ti­coats or ruf­fled blouses? And of course, leather – on pants, suits, and dis­tressed on cir­cle skirts. Evening­wear was lightly fab­ri­cated and brightly em­broi­dered with a thou­sand-and-one sil­ver and red stars, tiny suede se­quins, or fringed or ap­pliquéd in tribe prints. The show was brought to an in­cred­i­ble fi­nale with a se­ries of white looks – the Chanel bride by way of Navajo – in tiers of ruf­fled chif­fon, or­ganza, and del­i­cate em­broi­dery. It was a fresh end to a richly de­tailed collection. Caro­line de Mai­gret made the fi­nal exit in an all-white en­sem­ble of pin­tucked-and-tas­selled chif­fon, lace-up trousers, and a floor-length white feather head­dress for a veil.

The ring­mas­ter had done it again, warm­ing up our imag­i­na­tions with his lat­est ex­trav­a­ganza; these cow­boy dreams on the trail to you now in a chic black box.

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