Chanel Couture Paris 2015
A major theme of this week’s haute couture shows has been utilising the past to create the future. It’s not about Persil White dodgy disco futurism, but rather plucking key references from a sartorial past to power labels into the future. Dior tripped through time, Marco Zanini revived the spirit of Elsa Schiaparelli, Donatella Versace thought about fifties couture and Gianni’s greatest hits. And, at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld decided to ally Versailles with the modernist design of Le Corbusier, to create a streamlined vision of baroque.
Marching out on flat Massaro sandals, Chanel knocked the stuffing out of any costume referencing. You got the gist with elaborate Lesage embroidery fit for Marie Antoinette scrolling across strapless bustier dresses, ostrich plumes embroidered by Lemarié, and cycling-short cum breeches hybrids peeking out below glistening tweed suits, their jackets cut longer with the fullness of an eighteenth-century fraque. At the same time, the movement in those jackets felt utterly modern; the lightness of the embroidery was masterful; the controlled, billowing shape of sculpted white dresses in Angelskin neoprene managed to look simultaneously classical and contemporary
As always with Chanel, there was a veritable cascade of clothing to cope with – daywear, evening, cocktail, a wedding dress worn by six-month pregnant Ashley Goode, the first Lagerfeld designed for the collection, with a formal train falling from the shoulders in the grand fashion.
Yet, somehow, it wasn’t grand. It didn’t feel forced, or heavy, or overworked – despite the hundreds of thousands of hours of concentrated labour packed into these clothes. It was a tour de force, a magnificent display of the might of Chanel.
By Alexander Fury
Alexander Fury is Fashion Editor of The Independent