Tuesday 22 August 2017

Haute Couture Hits High Notes in Paris

Kendall Jenner wears one of the sleek gowns with mirrored embroidery designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel's haute couture show in Paris. Cover picture of Lily Rose Depp on the runway by Lucile Perron

We look back with Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of Chanel, at the soigne summer 2017 haute couture collection in Paris under the great, glass dome of the Grand Palais. We see backstage at the preparation before the show and Vanessa Paradis tells what it's like seeing her daughter Lily Rose Depp wear the closing diaphanous pink gown, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Art Deco, mirrored runway at Chanel
SILHOUETTES for the Chanel couture collection for summer 2017 were inspired by the ovoid form of Alberto Giacometti's abstract bronze sculpture Spoon Woman from 1926. But Karl Lagerfeld made sure there were no artistic rough edges: "I wanted something impeccable ~ I think couture has to be flawless," he said before the show. Chanel has four couture ateliers with specialist artisans. "I don't think many couture houses have four ateliers. They are divine." The monochrome, Art Deco runway was inspired by the pale palette of British interior designer Syrie Maugham. The colour scheme of the collection and the setting of the show captured the alabaster interiors Maugham was known for. The decor also recalled the mirrored staircase in Coco Chanel’s atelier at 31 Rue Cambon with elegant, tall vases of arum lilies and glittering, reflective walls and floors. "I wanted everything silvery, mirrored and metally ~ the perfect set for the collection,'' Lagerfeld explained.

"I wanted something impeccable ~ I think couture has to be flawless"

 Bella Hadid wearing a high-set belt
The Spring/Summer 2017 collection of suits and gowns was just as sleek and highly finished as the setting, enlivened with dashes of sparkling tweed or floating feathers. Lagerfeld made the overall shape of his designs much more curvaceous than previous seasons with billowing skirts and wide belts. There was a sense of 1920s proportions with long, loose-fitting gowns but the mirrored embroidery and stark shapes made it contemporary. The narrower silhouettes mixed with those curves made for a varied yet cohesive collection that was a virtuoso reimagining of the Chanel oeuvre by Lagerfeld. "All of the embroidery is abstract, no flowers," said the designer. "The belts are beautifully made and they are a little higher on the waist, making the legs look longer."
Three of the models of the moment wore some of the most glamorous gowns of the runway show. Bella Hadid appeared in a halter neck black chiffon dress that flared from the high waist, falling to mid calf with a glimmering embroidered layer below. While Kendall Jenner’s silver gown was long and sleek finished with a wide band of white feathers. The cloud of pale pink organza that completed the finale was worn by Lagerfeld's current muse, Lily Rose Depp. Talking about her daughter walking in the show, singer and actress Vanessa Paradis said: " As a mother I was terrified but as a woman and artist, I was spellbound. It was like she was floating above the mirrors. And the dress was incredible. It was heavenly."

"I was spellbound. It was like she was floating above the mirrors. The dress was heavenly"

Lily Rose Depp and designer Karl Lagerfeld
It was Depp's second appearance on the catwalk for Chanel after her debut in December at the house's Métiers d'Art show. She has also represented Chanel for an eyewear campaign in 2015 and is the face of the fragrance, Chanel No.5 L'eau. Vanessa Paradis has also been a long time muse for Lagerfeld. During the 1990s she starred in the campaign for L'esprit de Chanel perfume, and has since been the face of Rouge Coco lipstick plus accessories campaigns. For this show, she watched her daughter from the front row and was rewarded with a broad smile.

Lagerfeld contrasted the delicacy of the collection with slicked back hair and crinkled, top hats. "I thought it was very funny, the little hat, like squashed top hats,'' he said. The femininity was enhanced with the defined, raised waists and the wide belts that accentuated the hips, low-cut décolletés and faux pearl jewellery transformed into anklets. This was in contrast to the dresses with straight, tubular lines. The limited palette was dominated by white, silver and grey, made brilliant with metallic, sparkling panels. A chorus of other muted colours included pastel pink, yellow, blue and green, worn with silver-leather high heels, or thigh-high boots.

"Normally we don't drape much at Chanel. But the drapery has to be flawless, the pleats have to be perfect"

 Iridescent tweed suit with top hat
This season, the classic Chanel tweed suits are given new life with an iridescent glow, embroidered braids and draped at the waist, emphasising the curves of the tulip skirts. "Normally we don't drape much at Chanel. But this season, I made all of these drapes. But the drapery has to be flawless. The pleats have to be perfect." A trompe l’oeil effect made them seem like dress-coats, the jacket tucked into a pencil skirt with golf pleats at the back. For evening, there are swathes of duchess satin, organza and taffeta's, flocked and laminated lace, tulle, jacquard and Georgette. Sheath dresses are enveloped in mirrored embroidery, strips of sequin embellished lace, or balls of feathers. Bustiers are embroidered with flowers and leaves above big skirts. The dresses in tulle have deep, square-cut necklines plunging to the start of the waist and marabou boleros.

At the end of the show, Lily Rose Depp walked out on the arm of Lagerfeld in the frothy wedding gown of diaphanous pale pink organza. Watching from the front row were an unusually low key crowd including Anna Mouglalis, Caroline de Maigret, Japanese artist G-Dragon, the singer Cécile Cassel and English actress Lucy Boynton as well as French actresses Laura Smet and Karidja Touré.

 High waists and full skirts gave Lagerfeld's new collection for Chanel haute couture a new silhouette

The House's four couture ateliers created the mirrored embroidery on the evening gowns that reflected the Art Deco setting
Slim, column dresses with marabou trim provided a contrast to the full-skirted gowns
Thigh high boots were worn with layers of fine organza and wide, silver belts
Top hats and neat suits and dresses reinterpreted Jackie Onassis's signature looks
Bright iridescent colour enlivened the classic Chanel suit

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