Being fashionably late as I am, exactly a week after Paris Fashion Week I started looking into the “new old newness” of every fashion season from up close, and threw myself into scrutinising catwalk empire, where only one man is king and that man goes by the name of Karl Otto Lagerfeldt, otherwise known as simply Karl Lagerfeld, the german designer who ows it all, from Chanel to Fendi, and rocks it steady since his early apprentice days at Balmain & Patou‘s, back in the 20th century.
Aware of his greatness and having loved more than a few of his past collections, the Lagerfeld super-powers were never so blatantly clear to me as in the spectacle of his Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Haute Couture show at The Grand Palais in Paris, where a forest (as in wild plants and tall ancient trees!) was moved to the venue and re-arranged as backdrop set to the infinite show of display of the richly diverse collection The Keiser (as he is nicknamed in the industry’s corridors) designed for once-upon-a-time divine Mademoiselle Coco‘s fashion brand.
Moving a forest, that is probably one of the many underlying concepts hidden in Lagerfeld‘s statement to the New York Times saying that “They let me do anything I want…” referring to the Wertheimer brothers, Chanel’s owners. They give Karl free range, Karl gives back solid revenues (mainly coming from perfumes… yes, because the whole shebang of fashion glits&glam, fine couture and pret-a-porter dreams made of pretty dresses and starstruck liaisons is maintained by and built for the sake of perfumes’ top sales).
But what about the actual collections?
As Lagerfeld became more and more capable to claim full freedom and more and more exploring his creativity in just about every field it can be exploited in (the only artistic field in which King Karl is not involved is music, but I bet he is working on it!), his work grew into a sort of fashion design mayhem where anything goes all at once and in one single collection. The last Paris show in the displaced forest under the Grand Palais gracious roof is no exception: plumage & sequins, lace & flowers, chiffon & leather cuissardes, all in one outfit, time all the exits in the show, makes quite a lot to digest for the strongest of stomachs, even when, as in this case, the manufacturing is finer than fine (but we cannot expect less than hand-made perfection from a true Chanel Couture, can we?). Also the style ranges simultaneously from romantic girl to goth vixen, from countryside edwardian lady to classic Chanel’s tailleur-ed woman …in short: just too much to chew, sorry.
Traditionally Chanel brought to the surface the strong idea of a new woman, one that Mademoiselle Coco could well grasp and understand. A self-made woman, chic with a touch of glamour, feminine and strong, claiming new grounds in society without giving in to the temptation of becoming too masculine or too cold. Trademark of that style was the juxtaposition of pearls and pants, suites and fine tweeds graced by jewel-like buttons. In one word the Chanel touch.
But today what woman the iconic french maison has in mind? I fail to understand.
Instead it resonates loud and clear what man Chanel is talking about: its exceptional demiurge, Karl Lagerfeld himself.
Dear Chanel, we love Karl, but next seasons please CHERCHEZ LA FEMME!
here is the Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Haute Couture show