Paris Spring 2016 Couture: Chanel

Just when you thought it was safe to judge Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel…. Lagerfeld goes and surprises us with a line that was worth parsing through 73 looks.

Not that at first it looked like that was going to happen. Here we are in yet another elaborate set piece in the Grand Palais. In the Garden of Eden, darling, don’t you know they all wear wool crepe?


And for the first ten or so outfits, it looked like we were in for just that. But then the wood began to change. The outfits grew looser, the silhouette for freeform, like nature had taken hold of all this Chanel uptight 1930s suiting and was throttling it until it relaxed. For once the outfits seemed to watch the backdrop, as wood chip pallettes adorned gowns in some of the most whimsical plays on his own standards wandered down the line. The clothes were made from recycled paper, organic yarn and wild cotton. It was as ecological as the setting, and for once a show worth sighing over as much as the set, if not more so.

But the evening gowns were the real treat. The capes, proving that capes are finally in everywhere, even at Chanel, and the gold flecked white gowns seemed to suggest that perhaps this year, the discerning starlet who is looking to have an ecological Oscars will know there’s only one brand word to shop.

The highlights of the show are below.

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PreFall 2016: Chanel Métiers d’Art

Where most design houses treat PreFall as it should be, an off-season collection that does not hit the runway, and is far more saleable than the more dramatic pieces that grace a live show, some in the industry cannot help themselves but go over the top. if they have designed it, it should walk, and season, or off-season be damned. Some of them even try to make the off-season “happen.” (See those over at Louis Vuitton, who have for the last two years attempted to make “Resort Season” into “Cruise Season.” Honey, it’s like fetch: not happening.)

Then there’s Karl Lagerfeld, who never met a way to go over the top he didn’t like. Is it a season where most designers make 35-45 outfits? He’ll make 90+! You design for two lines? He’ll design for five! You don’t hold a runway show for this line? He’ll fly everyone and their plus ones to Rome, for an over the top life experience. It can feel utterly exhausting. Especially when one finds themselves staring at four times as many outfits as the next designer for the season, and it is obvious that if there was someone, anyone on Lagerfeld’s staff able to say no to him, or lend an editing eye, the collection could easily be cut by half, and not walk so many boring repetitions. But it must be said that the fashion industry that covers him, and are given the chance to experience these shows, loves it.


One side effect of all the grandiose behavior is that when Lagerfeld rolls out nearly 90 looks for PreFall, it feels less like he’s trying to make PreFall “happen,” and more in line with his inability to curb his enthusiasm. Again, like his Spring and Fall shows, one might be forgiven for mistaking the clothes for an afterthought, what with the emphasis on the inspiration for the collection (Italian films.) In other shows, there might be a small hand out explaining what parts of Italian film inspired him. Here, not only was the audience treated to an open-air film premiere, but the set was a reconstruction of Paris (in black&white, natch.)  All this held at Cinecittà studios, where everything from La Dolce Vita and Fellini Satyricon to HBO’s Rome was shot. But the 87 or so looks that wandered through after all of that were at least blessedly tied into the theme, with styling that felt like it came directly out of Italy’s film noir traditions.

The highlights of the collection are below.

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Paris Fashion Week RTW Spring 2016: Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld has done it again. His Spring 2016 collection was 95 outfits strong, and the most interesting part of the show was the set.


It’s terrible of me to say that, isn’t it? And with fashion outlets all over, fawning over yet another round of wool crepe and vaguely checkered patterns, I feel like an outlier. But the truth is that these overwhelming head-to-toe wall-to-wall productions where Lagerfeld overwhelms the audience by the sheer scale and size of the show hides the plan truth–his collections would be a lot more interesting, and his clothes a lot more creative if he focused on quality over quantity. A good third of this show could have been cut, and no one would have missed it. Another third could have been cut and the entire line improved. Seriously, when the most interesting thing about the show is the faux Chanel airport backdrop, that’s a really bad sign about the clothes.

No one in their right mind needs to scroll through 95 outfits. We’ve go just the highlights, including the not-actually-part-of-the-show baggage boys, below.

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Paris Fall 2015 Couture: Chanel

Thumbing through the pictures from Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel show, I couldn’t help but marvel that this man turns out about a thousand variations on the wool suit and yet people keep tuning in and coming back for more. This is especially true when the man, who desperately needs an editor for his shows, turns out ludicrous amounts of outfits, many of which are barely different from each other when viewed at a glance.


But a funny thing happened on my way to a cranky Chanel review. First of all it was blessedly short–and you realize how ridiculous the numbers of outfits we are usually bombarded with by Lagerfeld when I’m calling a show with 67 outfits “blessedly short.” Then around the 35th or so outfit, the morph from yet more white wool suits to white cocktails began. By the time the green gown showed up at number 47, perfectly sync’d with the true to life detailing of the colossal glamorous casino setting, I was nodding along. The back third of this collection is worth the wait. Scroll until you see the green gown and go from there. Even if Kendall Jenner walked the closing bridal look. We’ll forgive her, because when the bridal gown is a crisp women’s suit as sharp as that, it’s a reminder that Lagerfeld still has a hell of an eye for design.

The full show–I know, I know! For heaven’s sake just scroll!–is below.

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Resort 2016: Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld got the jump on Resort this season, much like he did last year, with a collection presented overseas. This year, he chose Seoul as his destination fashion show. He certainly attempted to take inspiration from the South Korean capital for the collection as well.


The K-pop craze informed some of his choices, leading to Lolita like childish looks and brightly candy colored outfits that bordered on clown costume in places. (This was especially clear in the few menswear looks, where the oversized two-toned shoes did not help matters.) Unfortunately, Lagerfeld also chose to put his models in oversized black braided hair extensions. On a line up of Korean models, it might have worked. Here the results on the white girls was one of Minnie Mouse at best, and on the few Korean models, a reminder of how Western they work to make them selves look.

This being Lagerfeld, the collection was also in dire need of editing, at a ludicrous 95 looks in all. Many of them were repetitive, and more than a few were reruns of Chanel suiting we’ve seen before. We’ve cut away the chaff, and have the highlights below.

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Paris Fashion Week Fall 2015 RTW: Chanel

So, can we discuss Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld a minute? Let’s be honest and blunt–many of his outfits are just a parade of wool suits. Moreover, many of them are borderline unwearable in life, as demonstrated here by Kim Kardashian (of course.)

So why do people go to his shows, other than the big brand name, and how does he keep them interested though a parade of 97 outfits, of which maybe 40 were worth looking at? By putting on a SHOW. The last few years have seen some remarkable 360 degree, lovingly detailed settings in The Grand Palais, and every season, the unspoken question is how Lagerfeld will outdo himself this time.



Welcome to The Brasserie Gabrielle, a leather-banquette-ed winer-and-diner restaurant that the models milled through before lining up and walking the runway down a line of booths and along the bar. The detailing was as exacting as the better designed outfits, and one could feel that Lagerfeld’s set design skills are going to waste in the Fashion World, he should really be working in Broadway, or films.

Though the space itself was too large for the intimate setting of the real style Brasseriethat Lagerfeld was going for, as the audience milled in, the setting was all they could talk about. Too bad one couldn’t say the same for the endless parade of wool suits that followed. The best of the set are below.

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Paris Spring 2015 Couture: Chanel

Yesterday, I noted that Raf Simons was striving to match the over-the-top sets that Lagerfeld brings to the table in his Chanel shows. Just to remind you that Simons isn’t even in the same league yet, let us note the flowers used to decorate the set of the Chanel show took six months to make, as each had a motorized blooming mechanism that was set off at the top of the show when “watered.”


Such was the beginning of yet another over-the-top collection from one of the most prolific designers working today. With a collection that was 72 pieces strong, Lagerfeld’s garden inspired line was a brightly colored tribute to the usual Chanel wool suit, many of them with dropped waists and many an exposed midriff that called to mind Britney Spears in her heyday.

When asked, he referred to himself as a well-trained machine. Considering that he is pumping out nearly 100 looks at a blow every three months right now, he’d have to be. We won’t post all the pieces here, as that’s just too many. But the highlights are below.

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