CHANEL NEWS

karl-lagerfeld-s-master-class-at-hyeres-festival

KARL LAGERFELD'S MASTER CLASS AT HYÈRES FESTIVAL

Headlining a Master Class held in the framework of the 15th edition of the International Textile and Fashion Conferences at the Hyères Festival, Karl Lagerfeld stressed that, for the fashion designers of tomorrow, nothing is ever set in stone. “It all depends on what the person who sets out to become a creative, couturier or photographer really wants and is capable of,” he replied to fashion critic Godfrey Deeny, who moderated the event.

Addressing the room, and the Festival Jury, Karl Lagerfeld walked the audience through his various sources of inspiration, his career and passions, dishing out tips for the rising stars spotted at the Festival. “I draw as I photograph: quickly,” he said. “No set formula exists that one can rely on throughout one’s entire career. I’m still not sure if I was made for this career, nor where my talent comes from. I do know, however, that I never stopped improving. Today I don’t waste any time bringing my visions to life.”

For much of the class, the audience got to hear about Karl Lagerfeld’s approaches to drawing and photography. “Let’s just say that, as a couturier, I have always been interested in photography, be it film or digital… We can’t compare the two, just as it would be impossible - and pointless - to compare two life cycles,” he affirmed.

Photo by Anne Combaz

20th-century-masterpiece

20TH CENTURY MASTERPIECE

In 1923 Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles commission Robert Mallet-Stevens to build - on the heights overlooking Hyères - "an infinitely practical and simple house," where everything, according to Charles de Noailles, "follows the same principle: functionality”.
Mondrian, Laurens, Lipchitz, Brancusi and Giacometti introduce works of art, Jourdain the furniture, and Guévrékian the Cubist garden. In addition to the clear, structured forms and defined contrasts, this resolutely modern avant-garde construction also reflects the rationalism movement. Boasting as many as 15 bedrooms as well as a pool and squash court, the continual addition of extensions up until 1933 transform the site into an edifice measuring some 1800m2 (19,375 square feet) dedicated to a new lifestyle approach where the body and nature, in harmony with the spirit, unite as one.

Here, in this dream resort with its white walls, a pearl protected by a lush mass of vegetation, with views over the Mediterranean and the Golden Isles, the Noailles play host to Dali, Gide, Breton, Artaud, Poulenc, Lifar, Huxley, and most of the major emerging artists of the day. Following the passing of Marie-Laure in 1970, and its acquisition by the town of Hyères, and successive restorations, the villa today, as an art center and artists’ residency, celebrates the 30th anniversary of its International Festival of Fashion & Photography.

The anniversary offers the perfect opportunity to revisit the places immortalized by Karl Lagerfeld in 1995 in a series of black and white photographs. "Timelessly modern", "vulnerable like the present instant", the Villa Noailles appears empty, altered by the passing of time and yet still imbued with almost a century's worth of encounters and artistic creations. The image freezes the poetry of the decor, ennobling the traces of time and, moving beyond a reality that can sometimes prove limiting, awakening the imagination.

Sophie Brauner

Photos by Karl Lagerfeld

two-rebel-spirits-figures-of-modernity

TWO REBEL SPIRITS,
FIGURES OF MODERNITY

“Prodigiously intelligent” is how Francis Poulenc describes Coco Chanel to Marie-Laure de Noailles in the early 1930s, before the two women meet at last, an attribute that also sums up the spirited Marie-Laure, though the traits they had in common did not end there.

Fact and fiction shaped both of their childhoods. Gabrielle, for her part, masked the unhappiness of her early years and went on to invent a legend. Marie-Laure, who was raised in a highly cultivated, privileged environment that was lacking in affection, had a solitary childhood, as the descendant of a wealthy German banking family and a French aristocratic clan whose ancestry can be traced back to the notorious Marquis de Sade. Her eccentric grandmother, the Comtesse de Chevigné, who partly inspired Marcel Proust’s Madame de Guermantes, was to prove a major influence.

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Just like Gabrielle, Marie-Laure follows her artistic instincts. The Parisian hôtel particulier that she moves into following her marriage to Charles de Noailles already houses a major collection of Old Masters, from Delacroix to Rembrandt, Goya to Rubens. The couple commission decorator Jean-Michel Frank to redesign the site’s interiors — think stripped back spaces with monastic volumes, marrying rare pieces of furniture and unique materials like straw and panels of parchment with pure forms. This stark aesthetic echoes Marie-Laure’s own look, with her wardrobe of Chanel suits (she owned 40 different styles, most of them black, according to Abbé Mugnier).

In constant pursuit of refinement, Chanel the designer favors the harmony of lines and the simplification of the garment, freeing up movement. Marrying beauty and function, she defines a new modernity.

A rebel and nonconformist like Coco, Marie-Laure gets a kick out of provocation. In 1932, as one of the first to adopt the diamond jewelry designs audaciously presented by Gabrielle to help “combat the economic crisis”, she appears in Vogue sporting a sparkling feather brooch.

Chanel revolutionizes fashion; Marie-Laure as muse and patron, and later painter and writer, contributes to the history of art, amassing, together with her husband, a collection of works spanning Braque, Picasso, Balthus, Mondrian, Giacometti and Man Ray. The couple play host to le tout-Paris and cultivate their knack for scouting new talent, notably the Surrealists. They finance cinematic projects, and lend support to composers like Markevitch, Poulenc and Stravinsky …

More discreet in her support of the arts, it is Gabrielle Chanel who offers shelter to the Russian composer and his family in her villa in Garches. As early as 1924 she designs the costumes for Le Train Bleu, a ballet by Diaghilev featuring a decor painted by Picasso, along with other productions and a film by Renoir. She shares close relationships with the poets of the day and avant-garde artists including Dali, Nijinski and Visconti. Coco also shares a close friendship with Cocteau, for whom Marie-Laure has had an infatuation all her life … Marie-Laure is a hopeless romantic; Coco, who is destined to remain alone, despite her epic love affairs, confesses that, without love, a woman is nothing.

Sophie Brauner

Marie-Laure de Noailles © Henri Martinie / Roger-Viollet

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