Get an Eiffel of this – Chanel, ever the creator of spectacular show spaces, didn’t disappoint for its Couture AW17 outing. Inside the Grand Palais in Paris there was a replica Eiffel Tower. Yes, you read that right. Ok, it may have been scaled down and truncated somewhat, ceiling heights have to be adhered to, but there it was in all its wrought iron, iconic glory. It was mostly surprising that Karl Lagerfeld hadn’t done this sooner.
In fact, this quintessentially French aesthetic was felt throughout the collection, and not just because of the imposing Eiffel Tower, or because it’s Chanel – this is the house that brought us astronaut helmets and yeti boots, remember. Flat, brimmed hats and button pearl earrings, a mainstay of Coco Chanel’s wardrobe, topped off most models’ looks; bouclé tweed featured, naturally, but darker, moodier, exuding the sort of chilly elegance that only Parisian women can; oh, and there was black. Lots of it. What self-respecting Parisian woman doesn’t wear black? Embellishment was minimal, colours were subdued and fabrics were luxe but not flash. It was, in a word, demure.
It was this restraint that let the real star of the collection shine – the silhouettes. Part Victoriana, part Belle Époque, the skirts were full, long and with narrow waists. Elsewhere, long, slimline jackets were paired with hobble skirts. Shoulders were curved, perhaps a bit Cristobal Balenciaga, while almost hoop-hem dresses swung as the models walked – none more so that the exaggerated trapeze-cut bridal gown. The pieces gave models a poise that has all since been lost to the relaxed ease of jeans and trainers – it was, ultimately, a return to femininity past; a recognition of that fact you do just hold yourself differently in exquisite tailoring with exaggerated cuts. While fashion is a mode of self-expression, the relationship works two ways; clothes can also be transformative.
Looks were trimmed with densely packed plumes at the shoulders, necks, wrists and waists. Unexpected and decadent, they added a certain je ne sais quoi. Constellation-like jewels peeked through the inky darkness from underskirts, in the form of buttons or sparkled on tunics. Black PVC boots, slick with shine, punctuated the most ladylike of looks – some thigh high, some ankle high, akin to turn-of-the-century lace-ups (with Perspex heels, naturally). If we were into betting, we’d put our money on these boots becoming a streetstyle hit with the fashion pack. In fact, we see this new approach to dressing becoming à la mode very soon. The feminine cuts, authoritative tailoring and un-flashy elegance is compelling. While we’re not suggesting you put away your Re/Dones and trainers just yet, we are asking you to consider ‘grown-up’ style. Watch this space and, more importantly, watch what Mr. Lagerfeld does next…