“Parole, parole, parole”, sings the iconic Italian singer Mina at the finale of the CHANEL Spring-Summer 2019 Haute Couture show that saw the world’s oldest Haute Couture house still in activity send out a collection of mesmerising creations.
It may have been a snowy January day in Paris, but the minute I stepped into the Grand Palais, I discovered myself transported to the Villa CHANEL in all its terracotta beauty, set within a perfectly manicured Mediterranean garden with a pool at its centre. Warmth emanated from the epic, immersive set. The tall Tuscan cypress trees that lined the steps of the Villa evoked the dusky nights of summer amid the splendour of 18th century gardens.
As the first look came down the stairs — a long, perfectly cut chic metallic tweed silhouette with Lemarié flower jewels in the hair and Desrues feathers dangling from the ears — we were more than ready for a dose of CHANEL’s mastery of sharp tailoring, innovation in craft. The magical, floral details could be appreciated from the runway as well as from close up.
What an abundant garden it was, both figuratively and literally. Flowers lay at the heart of Karl Lagerfeld’s inspiration for the collection. From ceramic, hand painted layered flowers embroidered onto sequinned gowns, to real, dried flowers painstakingly preserved in resin, folded and sewn into beaded floral beds on a bolero effect sleeved dress, the landscape had no bounds.
Savoir faire was showcased subtly. Rolled up, big bell satin skirt hems in prairie green and pastel pinks would peek open to reveal luscious, floral embroidered beds. Blind tucks competed by hand on the lightest of organza dressed embroidered with flowers made out of feathers floated by nonchalantly.
Exceptional savoir faire is always at the heart of CHANEL Haute Couture. The creative audacity and artisanship from the several Métiers d’art ateliers — from Lesage embroidery, Lemarié feather and flower embroideries, to Desrues jewels and pleats by the maestros at Lognon — all work together to turn fantasy into reality. The skills, handicraft and time that go into each piece are simply mind-boggling. That’s what makes CHANEL couture, most of all, so magical. As I left the show, I pondered, the words of Mina ringing in my ears. Over the coming days the magical set of Villa CHANEL will disappear; the Grand Palais will return to being the Grand Palais. But the magic of CHANEL Haute Couture lives on beyond the show, almost impossible to put into words.