Chanel Walks Like an Egyptian for Métiers D’Art 2019

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It’s hard to witness Chanel’s new Métiers d’Art 2019 collection and not have the 1986 smash hit “Walk Like an Egyptian” running on an endless loop in your head. Not only did the maximal references in the show speak to the song’s era, but so did its content. There is no mistaking Chanel’s reference to Egyptian excess, which Karl Lagerfeld deftly braided together with the show’s host city of New York and the 1980s by recognizing just how much they all had in common.

Attuned to the fact that graffiti bears a strong resemblance to hieroglyphics, and relying on both cultures’ lust for gilded exteriors and over-the-top adornment, Chanel made sense of two seemingly disparate times. If Osiris – whose deification was entombed in the Temple of Dendur that played backdrop to the show’s Metropolitan Museum of Art setting – were to arise for the occasion, one gets the sense that he might not feel so out of place amidst all of the lacquered gold and glittering, gem-set looks.

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

Métiers d’Art is Chanel’s annual showcase of its ateliers, umbrellaed under the Paraffection group, which has preserved and exalted 26 of the world’s best maisons d’art and manufacturing in the realms of embroidery, tweed-making, costume-jewelry design, pleats, smocking, and more. All of these extraordinary talents were at the fore of Chanel’s Métiers d’Art 2019 show, displayed across tweed suits worn atop long white dresses, dazzling minidresses decorated with multicolored gemstones, and dramatically accented knitwear.

Every tiny detail, when examined closely, is revealed to be the handiwork of one pair of hands (petite mains) imbued with generations of skill and devotion to one’s craft. Through it all, gold tied the looks together. Legs appeared to have been dipped in gold, lean jackets were outfitted with jutting gold shoulders, gold graffiti made its way onto streetwise puffer jackets, and gold embroidery and beading was encrusted on nearly every surface. Meanwhile, looks were topped with lamé gold hats, fingerless gloves, knee-high boots, and statement necklaces.

Over the decades, Chanel has taken us just about everywhere: to the supermarket, into the forest, around the museum, and more. However, Ancient Egypt – as seen through the lens of the 1980s in New York City – was an unexpected place for Lagerfeld to land. But its broad point of view offered plenty of opportunities for Chanel to display the full strength of its ateliers, its vision, and the kind of instantly recognizable, iconic styles that Cleopatra herself would have coveted.  

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