The French maison’s current collection revisits the joie de vivre of seaside life.
Unknown to many during the finale of this show, this was to be the second last time where the late and prolific creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, would take his bow on the Chanel runway.
Accompanied by Vriginie Viard, Lagerfeld’s self-proclaimed right-hand woman and the brand’s then creative studio director (she has since been appointed as the German designer’s successor), the power duo stood proudly on a temporary wooden pier erected for the beach-themed show and received the familiar and welcoming applause, which for 3 decades now has been an after-show given.
Barefoot models beamed joyfully as they skipped across the sandy, man-made shore — equipped with low tidal waves, no less! The mood was cheerful and upbeat, much like the breezy yet polished collection that saw fresh, feminine colours and pared-down resort-style silhouettes.
The seaside is where it all started for Mademoiselle Coco — in particular, Deauville, a small but swanky seaside locale in Normandy, France. The year was 1913 and this was the place to see and be seen, especially amongst the high-society crowd. It was right in the heart of this holiday countryside where Coco Chanel, a licensed milliner, opened her first fashion boutique, too.
Immersing herself in this fashionable town, the designer was inspired by the crowd of wealthy trendsetters. Taking keen interest in the practicality and languid appeal of men’s clothing, Mademoiselle Coco intuitively borrowed from boys to dress the girls. And in doing so, she competently freed up the constrictive styles associated with the French Belle Époque.
Many of these sartorial references still thrive today, not just in annals of the Lagerfeld-Chanel era but — thanks to Coco Chanel’s foresight — in fashion itself, too. In a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger was quoted in a WWD.com article, recalling a profound Lagerfeld musing: “I went to the archives and everything Coco Chanel had done in the past, I made it relevant today.”
Coco Chanel’s love for sporty, boxy men’s jackets was evident and dominated this collection. Executed with a playful and yet feminine twist, Lagerfeld offered permutations that referenced hunting jackets aka equipped with utilitarian-friendly quadruple front pockets. One look in particular was discreetly (or perhaps, not) teamed with the Chanel brand name emblazoned across both breast pockets. Lagarfeld cut these jackets more roomy than usual, echoing an Eighties-inspired power-shoulder oomph. More interestingly, the voluminous appeal of the A-line bodice and sleeves segued into kaftan-like proportions when fashioned into a coat dress or well, tunic dress.
Fashion Changes But Style Endures…
The patch pocket theme carried through into a multitude of derivatives, lending Lagerfeld’s collection its edge and youthful appeal. In two looks, sleeves were excluded from the jacket themes, turning the safari-style silhouette into a more accurate and functionally savvy hunting-inspired vest of sorts. Then, there were the quadruple pocket styles that were cinched at the waist with a panel cut from the same fabric giving it the entire ensemble an elegance of a shapely one-piece.
A boxy, white shirt, worn by Kaia Gerber was also shown some patch pocket-meets-logomania love. Cropped high at the waist, it’s bolero length was as fresh as it was timeless. A mini tubular dress with oversized side pockets was one of the collection’s simplest but more beach-friendly dresses. Perfect for the younger Chanel customer, the girly daytime frock was part babygirl, part elegant Miss.
Lagerfeld showed a palette of summery hues that also paid homage to the codes of the house, such as the series of beige looks that came in a variety of jersey, tweed and even fringed suede. The maison’s signature black and white combi was also reimagined by Lagerfeld in a capsule of dual-tone leather looks. There was the renditions of beige-and-black, pink-and-black… A very nautical touch of navy and white, too. Oh, how dapper and handsomely chic!
What Women Want Now
Not only does Lagerfeld have the knack for dressing women of all ages (and rather age-appropriately, too), he’s also got his finger right on the pulse of what’s big and when.
“Continuing to embrace the present and invent the future,” is one of the famous Karl-isms that flourish with each and every Chanel collection. Like Mademoiselle Coco, Lagerfeld believed in breaking new ground for fashion, just as much he did in preserving classicism.
One of the more unusual and talked about looks in this collection were the cropped tights, which Lagerfeld paired with Chanel’s iconic Little Black Jacket. Call it an astute and discerning level of taste in marrying the old with the new — if you will.
A Sea of Accessories
The focal point of this collection remains the sentiments of summer ease, discreet luxury and more.
In the opening look, a model in a signature Chanel suit wears two bags fashioned into a criss-cross chain harness. Indeed, the 2019 Chanel belle needs not one but two Classic quilted bags and — but, of course — in the most unique hands-free method ever.
Elsewhere, there were wicker-style box bags to channel the summer vacation spirit, in addition to shell minuadières and beach or volley ball bags that highlighted the à la plage storyboard.
The Chanel typography logo sprang from slogans on ready-to-wear to trimmings on belts and costume jewellery. They were bold and in-your-face but also argubaly innovative and discreet, especially in the form of earrings that read as “C-H-A” on one side, and ‘N-E-L’ on the other.
Countryside-inspired straw hats were also part of the collection’s key pieces and varied between a Provençal style to preppy baseball cap options with the letters C, H and A splashed across its visor.
Sun, Sand, Sea & Stars
The celebrities that turned out in their Chanel summer’s finest…
All images courtesy of Chanel.