THE READY-TO-WEAR SHOW
BY ELISABETH QUIN
After the country-chic of its Spring-Summer collection, next winter Chanel is heading to the great north. The glass roof of the Grand Palais has been iced over by a set made of blocks of ice sculpted into icebergs, melting into a shallow pool of fjord-blue water covering the floor. The show started with a hilarious prologue with a pack of male and female yetis calmly stalking the runway in hooded jumpsuits in fake fur. Karl Lagerfeld's inspirations led him through climate change and erratic weather, to thoughts of optimism at the end of the financial crisis. With the desire to revisit the icons of the House's Ready-to-Wear with humour, fantasy and modernity, Karl Lagerfeld has created a luxurious, desirable and wearable collection.
Fur is omnipresent, but this breed of fur is baptised "fantasy fur" by Karl (a more elegant term than "fake" or "synthetic"). Trimming the bottom of jackets and long white coats that recall a Robert Ryman painting, fur provides the finishing touch to white "twilight" dresses that glisten with the light of a snow-capped peak when night begins to fall. Chanel's emblematic tweed is knitted with fur, creating stunning effects that evoke rock crystals, moss, the down of a bird in winter, or the soft fur of a polar bear.
An impressive coat in knit and fur is sculpted into the shape of a chocolate bar. Suit jackets are embroidered with pins of sparkling crystals, and a cherry-red dress is adorned with "stalactite" fringes. The collection sits above the knee, and the silhouette is strong but voluminous, thanks to the protective effect of fur. Furry boots with icy heels and short white boots with their sensible transparent boot-cover bring the idea of après-ski to the city itself. Irresistible straight trousers in fantasy fur bring an androgynous "je-ne-sais-quoi" to such an otherwise feminine silhouette. The collection leaves us with an enchanting array of metaphors inspired by an audacious, ultra-contemporary Snow Queen. She wears ice cubes as minaudières, frosted snowflakes as shining plastron necklaces, and paradoxically lights up the dark nights with her immaculate dresses in pure white tulle, knit and lace, with snowflake embroidery and dream-like trains, to be worn throughout the long polar nights that will never see the sun rise.