At the Grand Palais, Paris for the Fall-Winter 2010/11 Ready-to-Wear show



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.



Fall-Winter 2010/11 Ready-to-Wear
Studio 7L, Paris



Fall-Winter 2010/11 Ready-to-Wear, Grand Palais, Paris



Between Fragrance, Beauty, Fashion and Accessories, the story of Vanessa Paradis and the House of Chanel continues. Karl Lagerfeld has been won over by this well-rounded artist; Vanessa Paradis moves with ease from actress, to singer, to composer. The artist and the designer have enjoyed a long friendship, and benefitted from numerous collaborations, beginning in 2004 with the "Cambon" leather goods ad campaign, followed by "New Mademoiselle" in 2005. Most recently, Vanessa Paradis brought her musical talents to the Cabaret Chanel Club, during the "Paris-Shanghai" show in December 2009.

In a new campaign coming this May, Vanessa Paradis, ambassadress for Chanel Fashion, will be the face of the Coco Cocoon. Karl Lagerfeld has photographed the actress-singer in his campaign for the leather goods line, which has been enriched with several new designs this spring. The campaign will feature images that highlight the actress’ style, characterized by her blend of subtle audaciousness and fragility.



At the end of the 1920’s, Gabrielle Chanel had a love affair with the Duke of Westminster, the richest man in England. Sitting on the table of her apartment are three vermeil boxes given to Gabrielle Chanel by the Duke.

The metal which adorns them is less precious than the one concealed inside: a gold interior. It was thanks to the Duke of Westminster that Coco Chanel discovered this characteristic of luxury which she made her own: something which remains hidden, which exists only for oneself. This notion of luxury found an immediate echo in the fashion world because, according to Coco Chanel: ‘Elegance comes from being as beautiful inside as outside’.



Role play: Karl Lagerfeld photographed the model Iris dressed up as iconic fashion artistic directors for the US edition of Harper's Bazaar
March 2010 issue



This skull that I'm contemplating, does it know that it reflects my certain death?
The inexhaustible symbol of the skull signifies life and its end. André Malraux considered that "A man is born when, confronted by a cadaver, he whispers, 'Why?'". Born when he becomes conscious of his death, from this point onwards death will be a constant source of wonder.

The iconography of the skeleton and the skull first appeared in the Middle Ages, reaching its first 'golden age' in the 15th century with the Vanitas of European Painting. In the second half of the 20th Century, it reappeared in almost obsessively.
In classical art, the representation of death portrayed by the skull is generally one that is serene and glorious, because death is promised by the church as a passage towards eternal life. However, this representation is radically challenged in modern and contemporary art, where the skull is de-pacified; now, it shocks us with its violence, and has become the enemy and aggressor.
The scenes of carnage from World War I, the influence of Marxism and Nietzsche’s “God is dead”, the Holocaust, and then the boom of consumerism, each dramatically changed western iconography. The skull, seen as it is today, speaks frankly and shamelessly of the absurdity of death. It accepts its fascinating ugliness, or its horrific beauty, or, even better, it screeches with a black humor that is often dyed with melancholy.

Superstition? Fear? A return to mystery? Or an ode to life itself?
For as long as the skull has been a part of us, we have been in want of a museum that would dedicate itself to the representation of the skull throughout the ages. The Musée Maillol's exhibition "C'est la vie! De Caravage à Damien Hirst" (Such is life! From Caravage to Damien Hirst) has been brought to life, with the collaboration of Elisabeth Quin, author of "Livre des vanités" (Book of Vanitas). In honor of the exhibition, Chanel has created a limited edition silk scarf, designed by Karl Lagerfeld. A playful thought, full of humor and elegance, and evoking both vanitas and vanity, the humility of the human condition is sketched in a Chanel suit, facing death. On a grid made of delicately crossed femurs, recalling Chanel's famous quilting, Gabrielle Chanel holds a skull in her hand as Hamlet once did. She seems to say, in her gaze, in her wink, in ictu oculi, "I know...a little more time, love, creation...But what good is vanity? I know....”
1000 scarves were made, and offered as gifts to friends of Chanel and of the Musée Maillol, the project being a way for the luxury House of Chanel to participate in the humor and lessons of wisdom apparent in this unique exhibition.

The exhibition illustrates the way in which man has expressed death over the centuries, and reflects on this evolution. Like an extraordinary box of memories, the exhibition takes us, first, up to the First World War, with a mosaic from Pompei, splendid dark works by Caravage ("St François"), Zurbaran ("St François"), and La Tour ("L'extase de St-François"), baroque still lifes by Miradori, and a striking Zigozzi. We then discover vanitas in modern art with, among others, a mysterious Picasso, "Still Life with Leeks, Pitcher and Skull", a 1947 piece by Bernard Buffet, a Cézanne that has been hidden in an American private collection until now, and an astounding and shocking crucifixion by Paul Delvaux, for which he could been excommunicated and burnt at the stake in earlier periods. Finally, contemporary artworks from J.P. Raynaud, Mapplethorpe, Hirst ("The Death of God", a skull with sea-urchin shell eye-sockets and a protruding steel tongue), the Chapman brothers, Barcelo, Penck, Basquiat, Richter, and Daniel Spoerry, come together to complete the greatest collection yet dedicated to the representation of the skull.

Throughout time, these artists have reflected on this oscillation between presence and absence, existence and oblivion. Their works are now on call, for operations without anaesthesia, at the Musée Maillol, 61 rue de Grenelle, Paris 75007, until June 28th, 2010.

Photo: drawing by Karl Lagerfeld


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