Wednesday 4th July

| BY Claudia Croft

Chanel: Couture AW18

No visit to Paris couture week is complete without a stroll by the Seine. Chanel recreated an atmospheric stretch of riverbank complete with handsome booksellers and a vast 100m long, painted backdrop of the Institut de France – one of the country’s most revered academic associations. With this vivid, Parisian scene set, models sauntered down the sidewalk in Karl Lagerfeld’s latest couture creations. Chanel, unlike many other couture houses, puts as much emphasis on daywear as it does on evening gowns – and the show started with a parade of ankle-length reinterpretations of the iconic tweed suit. They could have looked prim, but were worn unzipped at the side seam to reveal a cheeky mini skirt beneath. The formidable skills of the Chanel atelier were on show. Jackets that looked like tweed from afar were in fact intricate embroideries. One joyful bubble skirt burst with rosettes of fake fur (yes, fake!) and pouf hemmed cocktail numbers were cinched by glimmering corsets, their elaborate beading inspired by the dappled, evening light bouncing off the river. The zip motif returned, giving a group of taffeta LBD’s a sporty feel especially when the seams were unzipped, to reveal tiny skirts beneath. The atelier’s prowess with flou (the art of working with fluid fabrics) was on show with a group of weightless finale gowns that swished and swirled with each sophisticated step. The show closed with Lagerfeld’s latest muse Adut Akech dressed as a bride – not in a big white dress but in a lean, mint green skirt suit. This show had everything you want from couture: romance, sophistication, jaw dropping craftsmanship and a magical, majestic setting. It felt utterly haute and utterly French. Chic, non?

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans