Once again, the insistence of the French in starting Couture week on July 3rd, and my insistence that I need a vacation before collapsing completely have come into conflict, so we’re starting our Couture week coverage the day before it ends. But since we’re all out of order anyway, we might as well start with Chanel.
Karl Lagerfeld, as always, delivered a huge amount of outfits. 70 odd, which I suppose is a trim and fit collection for him, considering that his Fall and Spring Ready to Wears usually average in the 90s. But the real reason people go to the Chanel show isn’t for the endless parade of clothing, which has become less and less interesting over the years. It’s the set.
No, really, it’s the set. Every season, Lagerfeld rents out the Grand Palais and spends the week turning it into something grand. One time he built a house. Another a supermarket. Many times the set is more remarkable than the clothes that walk out of it. Perhaps that judgement has gotten back to Lagerfeld because for this season he turned it into…his sewing room.
Yep. Lagerfeld packed up his entire staff of ateliers from their usual home on Rue Cambon, bag and baggage, along with sewing stations, cutting tables, dummies fabric racks, embroidery materials, notions, trims, canvas toiles, every thing they could possibly need to keep working, and then some—to the Grand Palais, andtold them to carry on was if they were still in their workshop. It was effective beyond measure. For once Lagerfeld’s backdrop felt of a piece with his collection, as the only way one could reasonably expect his workshop to turn out this many outfits is if they were working all the way until the production began, and then sometimes even after.
Of course, it also recalled the days when Coco Chanel was not big enough to command a center this large for her line, and held these sorts of displays in her own home. Perhaps that’s why the clothing along felt a bit like it had failed to progress? But surely no. That must be deliberate, and not proof that Lagerfeld is more interested in the spectacle than the clothes.
The line is below.