There is not a set designer, art director, or photographer on the planet that doesn’t wish they had Karl Lagerfeld’s budget for staging. Last season we were amazed as he re-created an entire grocery store, down to branded product. This season, he goes even further by bringing outdoors in, re-creating an entire Parisian neighborhood, down to the oil and rubber stains on the street. Other designers may try to be street-savvy with their clothes. Lagerfeld just brands the whole street Boulevard Chanel.
Chanel shows have become spectacle with models coming so quickly and in such great numbers that one hardly has time to see the actual clothes. Sure, wave at Cara Delevigne and Gisele Bundchen as they pass, but does one remember what they were wearing five minutes later? Probably not. That’s okay, someone is taking pictures. Someone is always taking pictures. Yes, “street photographers” were a part of this set. Whether one likes Lagerfeld or not, at least give him points for attention to detail.
What catches everyone’s eye in this spring/summer collection are the very bright water color floral prints that are on everything, including the rubber rain boots that are probably already sold out in pre-production. I don’t see any way those boots are not going to be the hot item for next spring. We see it in the blouses under blue rough-tweed suits. We see it in the scarves and rolled up sleeves of a rainbow tweed (yes, that exists now, and it’s lovely). We see it in the lining of long over coats, spread out on summer capes, and quite predictably, on your favorite Chanel bag. This is probably one of the most versatile prints ever, so Lagerfeld uses it both blatantly and with subtleness, again with the details.
There are plenty of other unique elements to this collection, such as the iridescent mosaic patterns that, when done full-length on a dress, rather resemble cobblestones. Karl’s obsession with raised embroidery is still strong, as is his passion for draping things around the neck and calling it a tie. Gold lame sandals shouldn’t go without mention, and there is a powder blue jumper that almost makes me wonder if Karl designed it in his sleep, with pockets sewn cross-ways with each other and one little strip of unexplained fringe below the right knee.
Oh, and let’s talk about that tan/white striped sweater dress Gisele was wearing. Why are there not more of these? We’re going to need more, Karl. In colors other than tan and blue. The blue/white pinstripe, on the other hand, especially when done in patent leather, was a bit excessive for the number of pieces it was on. The look just isn’t that impressive after a while.
As always, this is a huge collection, driven home by a finale walk that was a street protest complete with hand-painted placards, something that has been all too common on the real streets of Paris this week. Unfortunately, most US department stores won’t carry more than 20 looks from this collection, which is rather sad. There is probably more here that is actually wearable and accessible than there has been in a while.
Leave it to Karl Lagerfeld to actually make a street luxurious. With strong takes on classic Chanel silhouettes and his incredible sense for detailing, Lagerfeld shows he’s just as timely now as ever. There’s not another avenue like this in the world. Viva la Spring!
Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier