Fall-Winter 2011/12 Ready-to-Wear
People often ask me, ‘when did you start writing your book about Chanel?’ – and the true answer is over a decade ago, when I first met Karl Lagerfeld. I was interviewing him for a magazine profile at the time, but we ended up talking about the ghosts of the past, as well as the fashion of the future; and one of the intangible presences in the room was Coco Chanel herself. Her portrait still hangs above Lagerfeld’s desk in the Design Studio, her apartment remains preserved on the second floor, hidden behind the mirrored walls; and late at night, when rue Cambon is almost silent, you feel that if you were to turn round swiftly enough, you might just catch a glimpse of Mademoiselle Chanel herself.
Once I had passed through those looking glass doors, into the extraordinary world on the other side of the mirrors, I knew that I wanted to discover more. Lagerfeld proved to be a wise guide in the maze that surrounded the legend of Coco Chanel, as did her close friend, Claude Delay, and her great-niece, Gabrielle Labrunie. I was also lucky enough to discover several private archives in England and Scotland that contained previously unseen photographs of Chanel, and a number of letters and diaries that gave surprising new insights into her life. In my search for the truth about this most elusive of women, I travelled from the abbey at Aubazine that contained clues to her childhood, to the remote Scottish Highlands where she had fished with the Duke of Westminster and Winston Churchill.
When my book was finished – not that you can ever really come to a final conclusion with Chanel – there was yet another surprise to come. Monsieur Lagerfeld produced a treasure trove: a series of beautiful illustrations illuminating the enigma that is Coco Chanel, which became the starting point for this wonderful new edition of the book…
France, March 24th, 2011
Germany, end of April 2011
UK and USA, September 2011
Photographed by Olivier Saillant
Photographed by Benoît Peverelli
Fall-Winter 2011/12 Ready-to-Wear show
Fall-Winter 2011/12 Ready-to-Wear, Grand Palais, Paris
Photos: Delphine Achard
Celebrities at the Fall-Winter 2011/12 Ready-to-Wear show
Grand Palais, Paris, March 8th
Photos: Delphine Achard
Picture Le Grand Palais transformed into a post-apocalyptic landscape looking like a life-size painting by Anselm Kiefer or a delirious vision by Michel Houellebecq during his Lanzarote period.There was black sand strewn on the ground and a catwalk of raw boards. Skeletal trees, like shadows or dreams or memories, were painted all around the nave. Smoke swirled up from the floor. It was all very striking and disconcerting... and impressive, like the two giant boxes from which the fashion models were ejected, as ablaze shadow puppet as white as an anti-radiation suit.There was nothing languid, romantic or sweet about the Fall-Winter 2011/12 Ready-to-Wear collection presented by Karl Lagerfeld. Not tender or reassuring. The mood that has electrified Chanel in the most singular way is more in the radical, grunge, anti-bourgeois vein.
The prevailing look was subversive. It takes a tough, hostile element from another world – that of the street, rock and night life – and transforms it into an insolent chic of a boy-girl on the warpath, a gorgeous very sexy guy. The elegance of the look simply invalidates any notion tied to classicism or the idea of women waddling and standing on stilts. These outfits will go home with women who know how to play off masculine versus feminine archetypes.One hallmark of the collection was sturdy boots, like those used by American soldiers since 1944 and by military men of all stripes over the last fifty years. At Chanel, the boots were a brilliant final touch to almost every outfit, including a metallic silver mesh cape, a jacket of luminous hound's-tooth tweed worn over wool trousers, and an exciting combination consisting of an embroidered black micro-dress worn with a quilted jacket and dark grey leggings that vanish amid "ankle scarves!"Another unlikely combo: superb tweed mini-boleros with fancy buttons worn over ultra-severe black jackets, anthracite-grey wool pants and heavy bronze-green shoes. And let's not forget the sumptuous teal blue jacket whose spangles lend a soupcon of casual luxury to a pair of Japanese-looking trousers, worn with a pair of evening combat boots to clash with the overall effect.The idea is to break with style trends and take viewers by surprise... in other words, to maintain a permanent state of revolution. We were crazy about the other leitmotif of this collection: the jumpsuits looked ready to hit snowy slopes, country roads or city streets. Our favorite, worn by Caroline de Maigret, was black and spangled with sexy zippers at shoulders and neckline.
Never has a Chanel Ready-to-Wear collection contained so many references to the working world and to the street. We also liked the knits and the two long, grungy-chic dresses in mottled grey with fancy buttons, very comfortable and reassuring, worn with the Chanel version of boots.Small, round bags in black or white were worn on the back of the hand, like brass knuckles. Here and there, a bare ankle emerged, artlessly setting off wide-cut trousers with turned-up cuffs. The evening jumpsuits, with their lace and openwork motifs, were more sophisticated. Their design sets up tension between what is visible and what is left to the imagination, a fundamental rule in the art of seduction. The look that triumphs in this collection – definitively anti-bourgeois and diametrically opposed to "prim and proper" – is stunning for its personality, its rock 'n' roll attitude and its sex appeal.Watch the full show on chanel.com
From 4pm to 6pm, SO-ME will be customizing Chanel handbags at the Chanel-Colette ephemeral boutique, 336 – 340, rue Saint-Honoré, Paris.SO-ME is a French graphic designer, music producer and film-maker. He is the co-founder and artistic director of Ed Banger Records.In addition to costumizing T-shirts, SO-ME creates the visual identity of numerous electronic music artists.His video clips for the group Justice have picked up prizes at the MTV Europe Music Awards.