© Anne Combaz
© Anne Combaz
New York City. Where memory and dreams fuse in unique alchemy, inspiring both Gabrielle Chanel’s original trailblazing vision and Karl Lagerfeld’s vibrant genius today. A longtime cherished natural home for CHANEL’s celebration of both the historic artisan traditions and futuristic sensual freedom at the heart of the brand.
My own Manhattan journeys are always emotional — the city of my twenties and the making of my modern chosen family. Now an outsider tourist in my old home town, I relish the chance to revisit and rediscover its secrets.
Snaking uptown, moonstruck, towards the Metropolitan, the city’s spirit shifts. A glittery chill fused with adrenaline and promise as the brightest stars collide on the fabled steps of the museum.
Friends drift closer in the half-light, but a hush descends as if all entranced by ancient spells as the international crowd tiptoe through the frescoed Egyptian rooms towards the Great Hall of the Temple of Dendur, built in 15 BC under Augustus Caesar, and proudly shown off at The Met for the last fifty years, its power amplified by the Sackler wing’s vast glass wall reflecting Central Park beyond. Nature thus becomes another character in a multi-layered show, the city itself eavesdropping on the drama within, each look echoed and reflected in distant shadowy silhouette.
The Temple, originally dedicated to the Goddess Isis, serves as dramatic stage to CHANEL’s Métiers d’art show, the sixteenth in an annual midwinter celebration of heritage craftsmanship, from embroiderers and goldsmiths to shoe-makers, thriving in collaboration with the House of CHANEL. The set epitomised the fusion of modern and ancient, streamlined urban design housing a legacy of worship and wonder.
Paris-New York; the classic codes of CHANEL intersect with Isis’ maze of hieroglyphic solar and animal signs, all highlighted in molten gold. Graphic knitwear and skater double denim followed striped-sand goddess gowns with dramatic collars and cuffs in Bond girl metallics. Lucia Pica, CHANEL's Global Creative Make up and Color Designer, exaggerated the otherworldly beauty of Adesuwa, Kaia Gerber and Lagerfeld’s new model army with a cat scratch arc of eyeliner in white or navy, mirrored in glinting costume jewellery.
The pursuit of eternal life was an obsession of the ancient Egyptians. Karl Lagerfeld’s modern warrior sirens prowled the Met, channeling the ancient spirits but with eyes fixed firmly on the future, just as Gabrielle Chanel determinedly set sail for America in 1931, beginning a mutual and never-ending love affair with Manhattan, as evoked by Scott Fitzgerald ‘in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world’ in The Great Gatsby’s American dreamworld.
With studio director Virginie Viard by his side, Lagerfeld commands The Met, a reverence for the past combined with audacity and artistry — a modern dance in celebration of the timeless Métiers d’art. Heat and dust — a blaze of golden glory. To be continued into the park and long into the New York night.