“I thought that was a modern idea to make them participate. They should be shown too,” Karl Lagerfeld shared of Chanel’s haute couture presentation. By “they”, he was referring to the 120-strong tailoring and dressmaking atelier teams at Rue Cambon.
To set the stage for one of the season’s most impressive collections, Lagerfeld had the entire staff transported to the Grand Palais, along with their dummies, sewing machines, cutting tables, mirrors, fabric swatches, embroidery materials, canvas toiles, and other tools. Here, as all 71 looks were unveiled to the audience, they would carry on working.
Chanel’s distinctive sleek silhouette was given a lift with strong graphic shoulders, as jackets with three-quarter sleeves were worn over wide-cut trousers. Tweed, Chanel’s other signature, was updated in a spectrum of scrumptious colourways, several dripping with elegant embroidery or beading.
Lagerfeld drew on English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley’s art nouveau illustrations for the afterhour offerings. As details increased in density, feathers spring from the shoulders and hems of dresses, pockets protrude at the hips, and black bows sprout from a feathered dress, among others. To set off these, fabrics were deliberately light with faille, mikado, chiffon, organza, silk tulle, and crepe georgette. Who could have resisted such a magical, marvellous and imaginative experience?
And as Lagerfeld took his final bow with the four Chanel premieres — heads of the two tailleur (tailoring) ateliers and two flou (dressmaking) ateliers — it reminded the audience once again why haute couture remains cherished by everyone who loves fashion.
The Grand Palais was also where Chanel staged presentations like Autumn/winter 2015 haute couture, during which it was transformed into a Parisian café. It was dressed up like an airport terminal for the label’s Spring/summer 2016 ready-to-wear show. fantastical doll-like makeup by Tom Pecheux, who not only smudged dark liner under the eyes but also applied triangle false lashes on the top lash lines.