Karl Lagerfeld evidently has tired of being asked where he finds the energy to fuel the multiple collections of the three labels he heads up at the sprightly young age of 79, because at yesterday’s Chanel show, he provided the answer in the form of his sweeping Grand Palais stage loud and clear. His sources are, not surprisingly, of the “alternative” variety. As if to send a message that as he gets on in years, he’s not getting older, or wiser, but more cutting edge and innovative, fifteen giant wind turbines rose out of a watery solar paneled runway, cuing the “ah” moment in regards to the strange print adorning the invitation.
Though the theme of renewable energy did not extend literally to the actual narrative of the collection save for blue tweed suiting, coats and dresses replicating the panel texture and a more literal translation in shingled sequin strapless dress, its influence was more of a message to the tune of Karl’s sartorial sustainability. Iconic staples of the house were reworked to obtain a sleek, modern feel, cuts were boxy yet cropped, proportions juxtaposed and elongated, fabrics technical and starkly modern. White flexible mesh, for one, was cut into trousers with corseted high waists and cropped near-bolero style jackets, rounded shoulders in clean, chic monochrome and worn with bulbous pearls clustered around models’ throats and wrists. The pearls carried on from the previous Spring/Summer season reference Coco’s legendary love of the strands when rendered in the plastic of costume and they doubled as oversized jacket buttons, belt adornments and all-over dress embellishments. There were windowpane knits in neon salmon and grey, sheer black pyjama suiting appliqued with hundreds of tiny multi-colour chiffon windmills, punches of primary colour such as cobalt blue and cherry red in the form of padded out jumpers-cum-pencil skirts whist mini dresses took on a 60′s air appearing in a myriad of tweed tones. The 60′s undertones carried into the evening wear which took on an ever-so-slightly boudoir feel. Gowns were tubular, either rendered in black and white and smattered with pearls, clean or, for the finale, embroidered with climbing flowers in sequin, they at once channeled a salon-era kind of elegance and a modern sensibility that can appeal to a wide range of clients young and old.
But it was when it came to the accessories that Karl proved he’s still got it and then some: clear plastic brimmed enormous hats were carried in models’ hand, crowns suspended in chic see-through discs and the tubular motif was applied to the iconic 2.55 which found itself nestled inside a giant hoop swinging nonchalantly on a swimsuit clad model’s arm (there were also smaller, more saleable versions of the same). Shoes took on a geometric incarnation, wooden heeled and oblong-shaped, a kind of art deco-meets espadrille. Sure, despite the spinning turbines and the photovoltaic moduled runway, there was nothing green about the collection. Except to say that, all these years later, Monsieur Lagerfeld still has the ability to make women look on the grandeur of his collections with the green of envy.