SPRING-SUMMER 2012 HAUTE COUTURE
BY ELISABETH QUIN
Escapism for the soul. A love-fuelled flight that never leaves the ground! Love permeates the Spring-Summer 2012 Haute Couture collection: love of excellence, materials, showmanship, and the precious skill of artisan craftsmen devoted to Chanel. Lagerfeld's sense of humor is present, as well... "Catch me if you can": Tuesday, January 24th, in the Grand Palais, aboard a meticulous replica of an aircraft cabin, something of the carefree spirit of the sixties was in the air with its mythology of air travel in those Pan Am years. Mischievous-looking air hostesses, refreshing clean lines and a warm elegance welcomed in 2012 with smiles all around. No Business Class here; everyone is seated in First Class – this is democracy according to Chanel!
As magnificent clouds drifted above our heads – a serious infringement of aircraft manufacturing standards – the collection began with a series of stunningly pure short daytime dresses featuring rouleau necklines and drop waistbands with low pockets, favoring the signature stance of this collection: hands in pockets. Hands free of any accessories, minds free of bourgeois constraints, very Coco-Chanel-casual, elegant, with a dash of insolence. As is fitting for a collection perched between earth and sky, the Couture comes in all shades of blue, a color as synonymous with infinity as it is with opulence and royalty. Slate, sapphire, lavender, deep marble, cobalt, lapis lazuli, navy and midnight blue, not forgetting Chanel’s beloved black.
All shades sparkled as the light bounced off sequins and crystals, cabochon, feather and rhinestone embroidery work. From mat to glossy, we yearned to touch the puff-sleeved dress swathed in light-blue sequins and embroidered with rainbow and peacock-eye motifs. We longed to carefully stroke the long grey-blue tweed skirt embroidered with iridescent strands, the tweed metamorphosing into lace as if by magic. Long black coat-dresses, the drama of the short black dress with straps hugging the neck, profiling a gymnast’s neckline, and the breathtakingly graceful counterbalance achieved by two bird-of-paradise pleated-sculpted sleeves.
A masterful collection navigating between 1920s silhouettes, 1960s graphic design, and the furious sulking of 1980s punk with crypto-mohawks accentuated with sumptuous head jewelry (a far cry from the crust punk look). Shimmering camellias, gem-studded moons, feathers sprouting forth with a celestial rustling. Stockings embroidered with constellations of stars above the knee have joined the pantheon of coveted items in the collection.
A cloud drifts through the cabin – nice touch! This cloud is as misty as a heart-wrenchingly pure evening gown. The show has come to an end. We raise our eyes to the glass ceiling and glimpse a starry night sky.
"A supersonic jet cuts off my thoughts with a Bang, trailing its signature across the sky, silent, curling, white, white" (Louis Aragon)