July is a rather special month to me – it brings not only Darling Husband’s and my own birthdays, but the summer couture shows as well. And what better birthday gift (besides an actual piece from the collection of course) could a girl receive, than another downright stunning showing by Monsieur Lagerfeld for the House of CHANEL?
The concept and term “Haute Couture” is an incredibly special and uniquely French designation. The contemporary Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture is rooted in the 19thcentury with the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, des Confectionneurs et des Tailleurs pour Dame. However, it was in 1945 that the decision was made by the current incarnation of this vaunted organization to make the term “Haute Couture” a legal designation that would be regulated by a special body under the French Ministry of Industry. The very few houses that create Haute Couture collections are not only creating art but preserving highly specialized artforms as well. The House of CHANEL in particular has distinguished itself amongst these greats in their passion for, and preservation of, the incredibly particular techniques that are used in creating an Haute Couture garment. How fitting it is that for the Fall/Winter 2018/2019 collection entitled High Profile that Monsieur Lagerfeld looked to Paris itself for inspiration.
With the Grand Palais being transformed into a quayside stretch of the Seine, lined with the iconic Bouquinistes with the famed dome of the Académie Française rising above, the setting was a perfect accompaniment to a collection that was a celebration of Paris. The color palette was drawn directly from the city with a pale grey reminiscent of the zinc bar-tops in many a classic brasserie, anthracite that brought to mind the street asphalt of Haussmann boulevard and a beautiful almond green that is all but identical to the iconic rooftops of the many historic buildings of the city. Not simply inspired directly by the look of Paris, the palette was also inspired by particular moods and moments of the Parisian day. Pale pinks and mauve for the sunrise, white, ecru and beige evoke a cloudy morning and rich and deep black, navy, gold, and silver beautifully copy the look of the moon on a rippling Seine. Even the embellishments of the collection – because what would a CHANEL Haute Couture collection be without sumptuous embellishments – were inspired by the beauty of Paris. There were crystal embroideries as an elegant interpretation of cobblestones, and tulles that were netted and embroidered with gold as a wink to the love locks of the Pont des Arts.
Tweed, a staple of any CHANEL collection, both Haute Couture and Pret-a-Porter, featured throughout the collection as well as velvet, crepe, lace, taffeta, organza, chiffon, and silks for a range of fabrics that were decidedly luxe. The classic CHANEL suit, so beloved by the House’s devoted clientele and admirers alike, was reinterpreted with a zip embellished with braid that splits the profile of both its skirts and jackets. With each collection that he presents, Monsieur Lagerfeld never fails to highlight his incredible skill through a fresh and new interpretation of the CHANEL suit, a garment at the core of the house’s history and identity. Another iconic CHANEL garment that Monsieur Lagerfeld never fails to reinvent is the classic CHANEL black dress, with this collection featuring mini skirted versions together with a bustier in both braided tweed or skillfully pleated silk georgette. Gowns are always a highlight of a CHANEL Haute Couture collection, and this season did not disappoint. From frothy tulle skirts to fluid sheaths, the eveningwear that make up High Profileare what Couture dreams are made of.
And finally, the bride, a staple of the Couture collections and always the final look of the show, stepped out in an elegant long straight dress topped with a redingote jacket in the prettiest pale green tweed embellished with leaves like the very ones worn by the members of the Académie Française.
Having had the distinct privilege of viewing a CHANEL Haute Couture collection in person on two separate occasions now, I can personally attest to the fact that these incredible creations are nothing less than staggering works of art. They are indeed beautiful when you see them come across in photos, but they are even more spectacular in person. From the artistry of something as deceptively simple as pleating, to the phenomenal hand beading and embroidery that adorns many an Haute Couture garment, one cannot help but be totally awed. High Profileis a touching love letter to not only the concept of Haute Couture, but to its home in Paris as well, and the roots of its rich history.