Spring-Summer 2009 Haute Couture
Spring-Summer 2009 Haute Couture
The last Chanel Haute Couture collection is like a new beginning: “A white page,” says Karl Lagerfeld, “a linear and timeless graphic interpretation. It’s like a starting point for the story of this new era, for which all the details still need to be written. That is why I chose paper as the theme for the couture collection this season.” The strong connection between Karl Lagerfeld and this theme gives this collection its intensity, “It’s also the fabric that I prefer most… I love paper! Everything begins on paper. Without paper I would be lost!”
This collection is minimal and extremely sophisticated. All of the luxurious details, from the embroidery to the fabric, are more suggested than overt. “It’s the new modesty” according to Karl Lagerfeld. These pure, graphic silhouettes often combine two elements: a short top and a straight skirt, both highlighted by lightness and fluidity. The skirts have discrete slits. The removable cap sleeves conceal the shoulders and allow for freedom of movement.
This monochrome collection is first and foremost a “game of lines and shapes,” continues the designer. Underneath the geometry and purity of the cuts, it’s the floral explosion of the embroidery and the minute details that discretely color this collection. The floral theme is found in the white roses and daisies, with embroidered flowers and petals from the ateliers of Lemarié and Lesage. It is also the inspiration for the sumptuous hairpieces that the Japanese artist Katsuya Kamo created for the collection. “There is something similar between a flower petal and a sheet of paper” says Karl Lagerfeld.
A house in Vermont
As soon as Karl Lagerfeld saw the house in Vermont he knew he had found the setting for the next Chanel ad campaign. It is a typical New England wooden house, set on the banks of Lake Champlain, with a severe and puritan look that makes it seem like the house has been frozen in the mid 19th century. As the designer put it: "I love this house, it is so Emily Dickinson", referring to the tormented romanticism of the American poet from Massachusetts whose work went unrecognised during her lifetime.
It was in the empty rooms of this vast six-bedroom house that the designer photographed Heidi Mount - the 21 year old American model from Salt Lake City who opened the Spring-Summer 2009 Ready-to-Wear show.
Karl Lagerfeld has also said that the campaign shots are inspired by the work of the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi, whose austere interiors with sunlight flooding in through the sash windows are the backdrop for silent feminine meditations.
For this season's Métiers d'Art collection, dedicated to the link between Paris and Moscow, Karl Lagerfeld was inspired by early 20th century Russian pictorial avant-garde. Virginie Viard, the Creative Studio Director at Chanel, and Karl Lagerfeld's right-hand woman, selected and decoded the details of a key silhouette from the collection, "this black taffeta dress plays with the contrast between geometrical beveled architecture and the delicacy of tulle frills.
The magnificent embroidered piece, made by the Atelier Lesage (over 110 hours of work) is directly inspired by Liobov Popova's painting, "Painterly Architectonics, 1918-19". On the shoulders, the black ottoman coat is cut at the waist for greater freedom of movement. Its volume is also a reminder of constructivist architecture. The shearling shapka, made by the Maison Michel, is rimmed with bead fringes and a minutely detailed golden crown. I would say that this silhouette connects the two faces of Moscow: the splendor of a prestigious heritage and the boldness of the aesthetic revolution."
The painting that inspired this dress is part of the exhibition "Russian Avant-Garde in the Costakis collection" at the Musée Maillol in Paris, until March 2nd 2009.