Saturday, 31 January 2009

Roving Reporter: Chanel

Chanel, one of the most anticipated of the couture shows, could easily be described this time as 'a bit of all WHITE'. This snowy collection brought together classic Chanel looks, with fine detailing and attention to craftsmanship.

The traditional Chanel suit was brought up to date with military precision. Epaulet detailing adorned the squared-shoulder Chanel tweed jackets, while little cap sleeves were complimented by soldier-like, stand-up collars. Piping details were used to create more uniform references, giving a refreshing and modern twist to the traditional fashion house.

The box-like shoulders were complimented beautifully with more feminine dress and skirt lines that scooted out into delicate A-lines and swished as the models sashayed down the runway.
This collection had all the hallmarks of Chanel, but to me felt much more up-to-date and modern. It was almost as if Chanel were reaching out to a new generation. The futuristic feel to the cutting was reminiscent of Balenciaga's current, edgier cuts.

Black was fazed into the collection to create detailing and focus. Buttons were big, black and shiny, while white full skirts were cinched with wide, sequined black waistbands to create a 50s-style hour glass. Chic jackets and skirts had a real Parisian feel, and for the first time in my life, I really desired to buy into the brand.

As the collection continued, a more oriental vibe was drafted in, with kimono-style collars that continued into simple (but again well tailored) shifts, this time in creamy lace. As if that wasn't delicate enough, sheer white ruffles and flower appliques also decorated a multitude of occasion wear.

Necklines were a real lynch pin to the collection, and as collars changed from deep V's to wide boats and kimono style, so did their detailing. One of my favourites was a wide, stand-up boat-neck collar, entirely appliqued in silk white roses. Such beauty and sophistication, yet with a wonderful simplicity.

Skinny, ankle-skimming white trousers (not a style for everyone) were worn under dress coats, lace-sequin tunics and even skirts to create a layered and grown-up look. Gone are the days of flesh flashing - now let us leave something to the imagination! This was truly laid-back-on-the-Riviera.

Sequins continued to detail the collection, both used to accentuate key areas as well as disperse decoration. We all know the ateliers in Paris are incredible, but the fabrics Chanel sent down the runway were so entrancingly beautiful, I wondered what could come next?!

By look 47, you may forgive me for wondering what else could still happen. But to my pleasant surprise, the old faithful bow popped up. This time black and sequined, the bow belts were used as front detailing to cinch in 'the new skirt shape', which although A-line in shape and stiffly formed in silk satin, has a bizarre front tuck. Neither sophisticated nor flattering, but definitely interesting.

You may remember that bows appeared at Stephane Rolland, and so appearing at Chanel too was a nice coincidence. However, when Chanel sent down a mosaic and sequin-clad dress, I was a bit suspicious. Are there secret couture-trend meetings?! Note that fingerless gloves were also the choice of styling here . . . hmmmm.

Black now became the main colour, and full-on sequin dresses were as glamorous as anything!
I also loved the skinny, ankle-skimming black trouser worn under a futuristic-looking, sequined-black tunic dress.
By the time the look number reached 53, I was beginning to lose count of where I was. So many dresses, and I now feel like I am waffling!

Monochrome prints (white-silk base, black petals) were formed into some beautiful and sculptured dresses, full of drapes and pin tucks and deliciously delicate ruffles. The floor-length versions were by far my favourite. But this is currently rivalling a place in my heart with polka-dot, 40s style dresses (where the over-sized, tear-shaped polkas were created through strategically placed sequins - Lagerfeld is a G-d!).

Finally, the last selection of dresses were of course couture's famous wedding-inspired gowns. The very last was short at the front (with skinny trousers) and had a train so long that a male model was on hand to follow the model down the catwalk.

And with that, Karl Largerfeld did his lap of honour to the ecstatic fashion press.

Favourite look: The teardrop, polka-style, floor-length dress. Simply cut, extremely elegant and quite ingenious.
The detailing /trend: Floral! Intricate flower sculptures and appliques. Sequins, their timeless glamour, with an extra little bit of magic.
Styling: Headgear, again floral hair tributes, flower sculptures and bonnets, oversized,
Very SATC. Little fingerless gloves a la Stephane Rolland.


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