After a triumphant debut in Tokyo, Chanel’s ‘Little Black Jacket’ Project made its way to the vibrant, glittering city of Hong Kong, via Tokyo, New York and Taipei. The exhibition finds snug home at the Space Gallery, on the charming Hollywood Road, where it will stay from the 7th to 16th July.
Karl’s intimate black and white portraits hang on pale grey walls in the two-storey gallery nestled in the midst of an area known for art galleries, Chinese antique furniture stores and small independent boutiques. Just down the road is the famed 150-year-old Man Mo Temple. On the hot, balmy evening that ‘Little Black Jacket’ was unveiled, the city’s glitterati came out in full force for the event. The jacket might have been black but the crowd was certainly colourful. A newly blonde French actress Cecile Cassel flew into Hong Kong along with actress Elisa Sednaoui who sparkled in a plunging floor length dress.
Chinese movie star Tang Wei, fresh from multiple awards wins at Korean film festivals, came to the opening and pointed out her favourite from Lagerfeld’s over 100 portraits: a large scale print of 4 year old Scarlett Utzmann Huynh. The ever-stylish digital artist Yi Zhou also joined. Noted local faces at the gallery included famed songstress Joey Yung, Hong Kong’s most noted lyricist and style maker Wyman Wong and Hilary Tsui, boutique owner and fashion figure. They had all styled their own little black Chanel jackets to distinctive effect.
Just as Karl Lagerfeld expresses the Mademoiselle’s fascination with Asia in inspired designs, so Asia’s fascination with Chanel continues to be still, ever strong. Celebrity make up artist Zing, who is an avid collector of modern and vintage Chanel jackets, was delighted to see the exhibit hit Hong Kong. Zing has been wearing little black Chanel jackets for years. And why not? The walls show Karl and Carine’s men don the garment in a nod to the men’s uniforms that originally inspired Mademoiselle’s aesthetic.
The Hong Kong skyline is one that comes alive after dark, and as the sun set on this vernissage, crowds hopped next door to the after party. Musician Choi Sai Ho entertained an eclectic crowd of VIPs.“ Fashion isn’t just present in dresses,” Coco Chanel once said.
“Fashion is in the air, it’s borne by the wind, we sense it, we breathe it, it’s in the sky and on the tarmac, it’s everywhere, it comes from ideas, custom, events...”
Occasionally, the acuity of something new, like this exhibition, can touch on a sense of timelessness. And in fast paced Hong Kong, that is cause for celebration indeed.
Photo by Frédéric David
The Little Black Jacket
Choi Sai Ho "Violin Cityscape" (Live)
The Little Black Jacket
By Anne Combaz
Fall-Winter 2012/13 Haute Couture
Photos by Benoît Peverelli
Fall-Winter 2012/13 Haute Couture
Photos by Benoit Peverelli
Chanel, New Vintage Couture Collection
Revolution at the Palais! This breathtaking glass construction spanning 1 200 square meters was inaugurated at the World's Fair in 1900 (at that time, Coco Chanel was 17 years old, still boarding at Aubazine Cistercian Abbey in Corrèze, and was already highly skilled in needlework). The Salon d'Honneur at the Grand Palais had not been used for a hundred years and Karl Lagerfeld was rejoicing in the idea of revealing this hidden treasure, transformed for the event into a dreamy, watery urban garden. With white wicker armchairs, pale gray walls, anthracite paving, lemonade and canapés and the dappled trompe-l'œil sky on the ceiling, the atmosphere was a touch romantic, old-fashioned and marvelously civilized. The reappearance of a Proustian world, a Thomas Mann universe, a dreamland.
Adding another layer of refinement, the pink and gray colors of the collection were inspired by the palette of Marie Laurencin. Impossible to dissociate the collection from her works: La jeune femme à l’écharpe, La femme au foulard, Domenica or even Les Biches; the two last canvases are kept at the Musée de l'Orangerie. With the line's fluid, slender forms, the flurries of chiffon, this ethereal, delicate femininity, through which the androgyny so treasured by Coco Chanel cleverly avoids vapidity, is confirmation of a daring modernity.
What is this New Vintage, this oxymoron that amuses Karl Lagerfeld?
It is a way of expressing the historical nature of the House and the collection, recalling the first decade of the 1900s with style, a Peter Pan collar in white organza and a flared black velvet dress as a tribute to Colette; the 1920s is reflected with low-waists, narrow hips, clear lines, the love of lamé; the 60s with resolutely pop chromatic boldness, like a bubblegum pink color on a stunning suit, canary yellow; the 70s, full pants and puffed shirts with ascots, studded belts, low-slashed V-neck chic gypsy gandouras, bare backs cut down to the kidneys, extremely rare at Chanel; and the beginning of the glam-rock 80s is represented with glitter and pearlized pantyhose.
A succession of allusions in a magnificent, incredibly coherent collection, worth an oxymoron in these times of economic crisis: a luxuriously simple collection. Because though the silhouette is simple, free of ostentation or extravagance, free of jewelry or accessories, except for the long, ultra-fine leather cuffs – a foppish gothic touch – the materials and details are alarmingly opulent and luxurious.
Embroidery (ah, these sophisticated angora wool motifs, pearly-pink micro-tubes, rhinestone spinning tops, tiny clover flowers on tulle)! Gossamer compositions created by the plumassier Lemarié; from the almost invisible long white tulle coat embroidered with delicate feathers in heart designs, to the miraculous bridal gown with its feather skirt and high feather collar! Evening gowns are embroidered with virginal chiffon studded with pale pink camellias. Embroidered real and “faux” tweed with unparalleled softness, worked into gorgeous evening jackets with 3/4 length sleeves, in a black and white suit, and in a mat and shiny coat dress. Finally, blue-pink and gray-pink lamé, gradually sliding into blue towards a pomegranate sunset, from gray to a gloriously pink dawn, straight from the palette of... Marie Laurencin.
In 1922, two years before Laurencin painted her Biches, Marcel Proust died. “Fashions change, themselves born from the need to change”, as found in his "Within a Budding Grove"/"In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower”.
Chanel and the New Vintage, or a journey through time!
Photo by Olivier Saillant
The making of Fall-Winter 2012/13 Haute Couture in Rue Cambon ateliers, from Karl Lagerfeld's sketch to the show
Hercules and Love Affair "Be With You"