Ambition, thy name is Karl.
Not only did the Kaiser create a spectacular set inside the Grand Palais, but he also doubled down on collections. Indeed, Fall 2015 Couture at Chanel offered a chance for a winning combination wherein Lagerfeld showcased 67 couture looks and unleashed a reissue of high-jewelry pieces from the 1932 collection ‘Bijoux de Diamants’.
An impressive roster of A-list celebrities, including Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore, and Rita Ora, populated the stage’s central tables, dripping in diamonds from the collection and outfitted in custom, individual designs. As if this amalgam of set, celebrity, and fantasy weren’t enough, Lagerfeld also managed to turn out a gorgeous collection that ran the gamut from iconic suits and geisha gowns to flapper slip dresses and Pilgrim frocks. Onlookers certainly had plenty to talk about after the show.
For those not easily distracted by the twin flames of stardom and beauty, the collection itself held unique design interest. In Belgium, Lagerfeld forged the brand’s signature suits that populated the beginning of the show by using a technique called “selective laser sintering” on a 3-D computer. Although the ten suits that opened the show were instantly recognizable as the works of Chanel, there was something iridescent and futuristic about the sturdiness of their quilted, mesh sleeves and synthetic shine. While their structure was machine made, they were still lined and decorated by hand, which kept them firmly on couture footing (according to very strict measures set in place by industry law). The mood quickly changed as more familiar sights passed our eyes: there were stunning bouclé tweeds crafted by famed embroidery house Lesage, exquisitely intricate “mosaics” made from tweed tiles that cropped up along hemlines, fully feathered looks crafted by Maison Lemarié, and lush silks dotted with pinpricks of pearls and spiky paillettes.
While roulette wheels spun in the background, Chanel’s couture designs calmly circulated the floor. There were fanciful strapless gowns made from a woven confetti material, lacquered leather cap-sleeved dresses interrupted by a swath of tiered feathers, frothy chiffon frocks, flimsy Lurex slip dresses, and so much more. Chanel’s noir gowns were especially gorgeous — as ornamental as a Vegas showgirl, but a thousand times more expensive. They came draped with chandelier ropes, scored with jet-black beading, and fluffed with frilly layers. There was much ado about Kendall Jenner’s closing look — a bridal pantsuit with a gauzy train emanating from the shoulders — but, after all the haphazard opulence of preceding looks, it felt rather plain. Having said that, after such a recherché display, Lagerfeld could have gotten away with a closing look made of sackcloth and ashes.
After all, fashion can be a high-stakes game, but in the cercle privé everyone wins.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree