Chanel’s Fully Realized Vision of Parisian Fashion Is a Sight to Behold

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After centuries, Paris is still the epicenter of the fashion world, and no one has even come close to usurping her place. Over the years, according to the edicts issued from the city’s fashion elite, hemlines have raised and lowered, necklines have plunged and frilled, and fabrics have rotated through weights, densities, and embellishments. The rest of the fashion world raced to keep up.

At the top of the ultra-glamorous heap, we find Chanel, steadfastly remaining one of the world’s top luxury brands for its ability to recharge classics with new and interesting facades that appeal to women of all generations. For Fall 2018 Couture, Karl Lagerfeld’s wizardry wins again, with elements reified from the old – a Victoriana high-neck, a patrician rounded and puffed shoulder, a Grecian tabard-like tunic – made new once more by engineering them together in unique and unusual ways.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

With a stable of ateliers to tap, Chanel’s creations are especially exquisite, taking hundreds of hours to stitch, embroider, and embellish by hand. This season focused on Paris as a fashion institution and the evolution of its metier over time. At first, Chanel’s girls were studious, crisp, and polished in unfussy combinations of tunics with slit sleeves and longer midi skirts all done in tweed. But Lagerfeld had some tricks in store.

Fashion is prismatic. It is at once a reflection of the zeitgeist, a barometer reflecting culture’s mercurial moods, a mirror held up to one’s self, and ultimately, at the level of haute couture, a fantasy.

From a distance, Chanel’s tweeds appeared somber, but up close they sparkled with subtle metallic threading. Zippered accents created a literal line between sophistication and flirtation as they revealed extraordinarily decorated interior linings and secret mini skirts when zipped away. Puffed peplums were actually disguised muffs that the wearer could tuck their hands into. Everything looked like one thing and was actually another. It was terrific to behold.

Things got bolder as the show wore on, and Chanel’s smartly dressed women took on an insouciant attitude. With punk-a-billy hairstyles, fingerless, elbow-length gloves, and low-slung ankle boots, the models marched in clothes that flounced, sparkled, and rippled with movement. There were looks fully bedecked in coruscated crystal beading, replete with matching velvet-trimmed robes, others that seemed to float away from the bottle made stiff by crinkled foils, and cropped, sequined accents that were suspended over floating chiffon dresses.

Fashion is prismatic. It is at once a reflection of the zeitgeist, a barometer reflecting culture’s mercurial moods, a mirror held up to one’s self, and ultimately, at the level of haute couture, a fantasy. With Chanel cornering the market on fantasy and defining the language of fashion’s capital, one can fully immerse themselves in the charm of Paris without ever having set foot on its cobbled streets.

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