3M // inspire


Karl Lagerfeld transforms the Grand Palais into a crumbling Ancient Greece. Modernity meets antiquity for a timeless look at beauty


Some things, however old, never date. While we could well be talking about classic Levi’s or an Hermès Birkin, we’re actually talking about something far older than these: Ancient Greece. Yes, this may take us all the way back to the 12th Century BC, but the relevance of this civilization never really wanes. Ok, so technology has moved on a bit, but sartorially, who cannot love a Greek sandal, a toga-esque goddess gown or a draped maxi dress à la Alber Elbaz-era Lanvin? Exactly. Along with mathematics, astronomy and philosophy, the Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about style, too (not to be flippant, or anything).

Karl Lagerfeld, never a man to do something by halves, transformed the Grand Palais in Paris into Ancient Greece – all crumbling ruins, columns and Mediterranean sunsets –  transporting the audience to a land that time most certainly hasn’t forgotten. But it wasn’t all about looking back; the show, after all, was called “The Modernity of Antiquity”. Greece, to Lagerfeld, acted as the nexus of beauty and culture in the Western world and, to this day, its influence is still felt in our art, culture and aesthetic judgement. Lofty idea? Maybe. But the sentiment was simple; beauty then is beauty now. People have been people for a very long time and our ancestors may have looked at the world, and beauty, in a very similar way to us – just without a Snapchat filter.


"technology has moved on a bit, but sartorially, who cannot love a Greek sandal, a toga-esque goddess gown or a draped maxi dress à la Alber Elbaz-era Lanvin?"


So, how was Ancient Greece interpreted for today? In the form of earthy, natural tones with Hellenic detailing – think antique coin buttons, strappy sandals with column heels and jewellery that snaked around the body, adorning it with Greek iconography. Bouclé suiting was there, of course, but lighter and softer; cuts were looser, hems were fringed and waistlines were cinched with material ties, toga style. Tweed gave way to maxi dresses featuring Greek meanders, those undulating geometric patterns more commonly spotted on mosaics, plaques and urns. Strappy leather gloves managed to allude to both Hoplite warriors and Lagerfeld himself – who’d have thought there’d be common ground there? – while draped, liquid fabric tunic dresses and gowns, detailed with gilded belts and hardware, sat firmly in the goddess category. Much of this still feels very much part of ‘antiquity’ so, for balance, modernity was given some time to shine. Literally. Gold leather sweatshirt and shorts, a CC logo tee, body-con swimsuits, skirts and crop tops exuded hip hop swagger – which may or may not have been around in Ancient Greece. Wouldn’t put it past them; bling may indeed have been the thing in 12th Century BC. Midas was, after all, a mythological Greek king who could turn everything he touched to gold. The Parisian location peeped through in the form of deep navy and black maxi dresses and skirts; a crisp, clean foil to the desert hues and soft metallics and a reminder that these are clothes to wear down the rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré – not a trip to the Parthenon.

It was a collection both classic and Classical, referential and revelatory. Elegant, beautiful clothes inspired by the past and renewed for modern women. Greece is the word.