Although this Chanel Haute Couture collection seemed to be so much about a ‘Lacroixian’ flounce, it was also about tailoring and more specifically the shoulders. Each painstakingly worked and embroidered tweed suit, a Chanel staple, seemed to have a different shoulder shape, a feature that was carried on into much of the ‘flou’ or dress making as well.
This provided a great contrast with the rest of the collection which was much more about excess and voluminous puff, so clearly expressed in the hair, expertly curled by Sam McKnight. Both of Chanel’s opposing sides were portrayed: the androgynous and the feminine. Two things so often explored by Gabrielle Chanel herself.
There was also a contrast between the overpowering might of the Chanel brand, seen in its blockbuster shows in the Grande Palais, and this season’s presentation. The seemingly smaller, more intimate scale it was shown on, brought the Couture workers – the petites mains – to the forefront. This gave the audience a privileged peek through the keyhole to the work that brings Karl’s sketches to life.
The craftsmanship and man-hours that separates Haute Couture from Ready to Wear is something that can often be overshadowed – easily at Chanel. This time, Karl did not allow the usual drama to overshadow the clothes.
It also seemed to be marking another chapter of his time at the house, in which the clothes and the craftsmanship come to the forefront and the spectacle that was previously ever-present takes a backseat. This began at the last Ready to Wear collection where everyone was given front row seats to be able to see the clothes up close. The best thing about this was that it worked. Nothing distracted from the clothes. Every inch of beautiful tweed, expertly embroidered by Lesage and the many feathers hand applied by Lemarié was visible and was heightened by its visibility and the collection benefitted as a result, as Couture gives you the opportunity to appreciate clothes in that way.