Karl Lagerfeld set his Chanel couture show in a Mediterranean beachside forest, alive with birdsong. Sweet-scented pine trees reached high into the monumental dome of the Grand Palais, and guests followed a wooden boardwalk snaking up a sandy hill to discover an amphitheater arranged in a clearing for a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, perhaps?
In Lagerfeld’s collection, a streak of German Romanticism brought a touch of shadowed drama to summer’s lightness. The girls were made up with “birds’ eyes” of fluttering organza eyelashes, and sported Sam McKnight’s punkish asymmetric fall of hair and feathers “as though a branch from the trees had fallen in her hair!” as Lagerfeld exclaimed during the fittings.
Enjoy the CHANEL Spring 2013 Couture show at the end of this post! Love, Andrea
The luxurious details revealed the authority of the Chanel workrooms, and the skills of the fournisseurs that the house has acquired in recent years to keep these crafts alive. Pale or charcoal tweeds (some threaded with pale gold or platinum) that had been handwoven on narrow looms from ribbon and woolen strips were used for A-line jackets flaring gently over belling skirts. If the skirts were short, the legs were still covered in very high boots made from lace and snakeskin (and sometimes with the classic Chanel contrast toe fabrication simply removed). Some of those boots had upper panels in a fabric to match the rest of the look, creating the witty illusion of tight-fitting knee breeches.
Off-the-shoulder cape collars and stand-away “horn of plenty” sleeve details (Lagerfeld calls it “the bird sleeve” and it’s a detail that Coco Chanel herself used for some early 1930s evening gowns) framed the shoulders and neckline in a romantic way. Lagerfeld took his inspiration for what he dubbed “reflection dresses” with their pale shoulder detail, from his photo studio, with its gleaming white reflectors throwing flattering light in the subject’s face. For the subtly magnificent evening dresses, Lagerfeld wanted “to use embroidery like a print,” or even a painting, so floral thirties-inspired “prints” of meadow flowers, or graphic kabuki-palette blooms of lacquer red, black, and white turned out, on closer inspection, to have been lavishly embroidered in sequins. Thick black lace bonded with white neoprene was a deft use of couture technique brought firmly into the twenty-first century, but the ravishing finale Titania dresses of shredded tulle, chiffon, and feathers took us back into Shakespeare’s forest of romance.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credit/Source: © VOGUE & © CHANEL
Photography by © Marcus Tondo/InDigitalTeam/GoRunway
© Benoit Peverelli for CHANEL
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Giambattista Valli showed his couture collection beneath a ceiling alive with scrolling tendrils of naturalistic plasterwork flowers and foliage in the exquisite Sicilian theater of the Italian ambassador’s residence (built in 1732 as the Hôtel de la Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville). It was a perfect setting for the collection, inspired, as Valli explained, by “flora and fauna.”