There is no denying that Gabrielle Chanel radically changed the world of fashion. Her ground-breaking designs of the early 20th century freed women from the corset, and exquisitely blended unapologetic femininity with the freedom of menswear-inspired pieces resulting in a whole new approach to style. From her creation of the downright iconic little black dress and legendary 2.55 bag, Mademoiselle Chanel left an indelible mark on the fashion world. A slightly less well-known mark that Mademoiselle left was on the structure of the fashion seasons. In the Fall of 1919, she presented a small collection of pieces that were designed with the fashionable holiday resorts of Europe in mind, particularly tony Biarritz which she herself frequented. That collection would inspire her to continue to show these capsule collections of unlined jersey garments and sweaters between the traditional seasons. Eventually, she even added suits and evening dresses in large part to fulfill her own needs emanating from her travels and glamorous life of “destinations.”
When Karl Lagerfeld took the helm of Mademoiselle Chanel’s legacy with his appointment as the head of the House of CHANEL in 1983, he reinvigorated this special little season that the House had launched decades before. Under his expert direction, the Cruise collections have grown to be one of the most important of the year. Drawing inspiration from the notion of living a life of “destinations” like Mademoiselle herself, the collections are imbued with the energy and style of locations like New York, Lost Angeles, Miami, Venice, Cuba, Saint-Tropez, Cap d’Antibes, Greece, and more. For the 2018/2019 Cruise Collection, Lagerfeld looked to the nautical lifestyle so loved by Mademoiselle Chanel. Having docked a luxury ocean liner in the heart of the Grand Palais, fittingly named La Pausaafter Chanel’s Provençal residence of the same name, Lagerfeld crafted a fantastical setting befitting of the beautiful Cruise Collection.
A color palette of sun dappled pastels, dazzling pinks and blues, and crisp whites and nautical inspired reds and blues showed perfectly on fabrications like silk chiffon, crêpes de Chine, cotton poplin, and of course the classic CHANEL tweed. Less the collection be deemed prim, the inclusion of denim, leather, and PVC add a fresh breath of modernity and edge. With prints of boats and shark teeth, and motifs of waves and portholes, and even aqua sequinned embroideries reminiscent of undulating waves, there is an undeniable call to balmy breezes and days spent by the water. The classic CHANEL tweed is woven throughout the collection, dresses are narrow and thigh skimming, with some pieces also featuring an elegantly accentuated high waists. A hallmark of a CHANEL collection, the suit, is done either with a chic little skirt or trousers, and the House’s iconic jacket is shown fastened with La Pausa stamped buttons as both a double-breasted blazer-dress or with a white pleated skirt. For evening, the gowns simply beg to be worn for nights spent dancing and mingling amongst the fashionable jet-set. They are done with grand pleats (because leave it to CHANEL to elevate the humble pleat to a work of art) or as a long sheath featuring ruffles that echo the movements of the waves. Skirts are also shown for evening, paired with crop-tops and shown at a more formal long length.
The collection is a masterpiece – a beautiful interpretation of the nautical style so beloved by Gabrielle Chanel. Expert craftsmanship coupled with Monsieur Lagerfeld’s vision has resulted in a collection that is downright stunning. The smocking alone on the pink blouse in the first picture of this post is worthy of praise, but it, coupled with the other gorgeous garments of the 2018/2019 CHANEL Cruise collection, illustrate just why the House of CHANEL is so singularly special.
Photos via CHANEL