Wednesday, March 7, 2012
PFW Fall '12: Chanel
Karl Lagerfeld thrives on the new. And he's happy to share his thirst for novelty with the massive audience at his biannual Chanelspectaculars. In today's often enthralling show, there was the new proportion of a three-piece suit—jacket, skirt, and pants. (Well, almost new. Lagerfeld has tried that before, but this time, he got it right.)
There was new music (Michel Gaubert soundtracked the proceedings with a not-yet-released number by Tristesse Contemporaine). And there was a credit no one would have seen at a fashion show before: eyebrows by Lesage, the legendary couture embroidery house. The strips of crystal that defined each model's brows were a microcosmic rendition of the show's grand design, which featured a set that looked like the Fortress of Solitude.
"Nature's the greatest designer," said Lagerfeld, pointing at some of the more spectacular crystalline excrescences. "These shapes are millions of years old." He lavished crystals on hems and cuffs as the trim on coats and the heels of shoes. And he indulged his new mineralogical bent with the mica sparkle in the dark tweeds that opened the show, in jeans with the streaky grain of rock formations, in the knits that looked like layers of sediment, and in a scatter of moonstones across a sweater dress.
But Lagerfeld also found a man-made co-relative for Nature's geometry in an exhibition of Czech cubism he saw in Prague. So there was angular cubist articulation in sleeves—a new silhouette, in other words—and in the polyhedron decoration of coats. The abstract color-blocking also had a vaguely cubist feel.
Ah yes, color. Karl felt it was time to bring it back, after last Fall's monochrome and Spring's pastels. But as it turned out, the colored pieces didn't fare so well against those penumbral tweeds, or the oily glisten of the feathered pieces that closed the show. It was much easier to imagine the younger customer that Lagerfeld has so successfully courted for Chanel being drawn to the dark side.