It is no secret that I have a deep love and appreciation for the House of CHANEL. Some might call it an obsession, but I call it admiration. Just like you cannot help but admire the talent of great artists like the Old Masters and the Impressionists, or the perfect prose of luminaries like Shakespeare and Austen, so too can you not help but marvel at Monsieur Lagerfeld’s creations. His bi-annual Haute Couture collections are masterworks in an already incredible body of work and the Spring-Summer 2018 collection is no different. I know I say that each season is my favorite yet, but it cannot be helped. With each Haute Couture collection, Lagerfeld continues to outdo himself and Spring-Summer 2018 is a triumph of staggering beauty. I also know that each season, I stress what incredible works of art these garments are and that as well cannot be helped. The amount of hard work and love that goes into each of these pieces is incredible. Completely constructed from hand, each garment represents hundreds of hours of precise workmanship by a very special group of artisans. In fact, the designation of “Haute Couture” is a protected legal one, given to only a handful of houses. To be true Haute Couture, the vaunted Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture has to have recognized the house and invited it to become a member. A designer cannot simply bestow this honor on themselves or claim the title because they make their garments by hand. These garments are truly special and to own a piece of true Haute Couture is akin to owning a great piece of art worthy of a museum. And with that, I will step off my soap box and get on with the business of professing my love for the CHANEL Spring-Summer 2018 Haute Couture Collection.
As if bringing the famed floral paintings of Henri Fantin-Latour to life, Monsieur Lagerfeld presented a collection imbued with romantic elegance and unapologetic femininity. Echoing Fantin-Latour’s very palette, the collection is done in wistful tones of pinks, coral, frosted lemon, mint, grey and pale taupe interspersed with bold hues of black, sparkling silk, deep ink, fuchsia, electric blue and chlorophyll green. Set against a French garden brought to life in the Grand Palais, a towering trellis tunnel (covered in climbing roses, ivy and jasmine with a fountain at its center) hosted models who were the very picture of beauty and “the new attitude”. Not simply simpering beauties, models walked proudly and with determination that showed this “new attitude” and how it complements the proud femininity of the collection. They were crowned with beautiful little floral headpieces and tulle veils, and with elegant booties in tweed, leather and, most incredibly, in embroidered tulle with transparent heels. With riotous layers of silk tulle, chiffon and organza to the classic CHANEL tweed, the fabrications of the collection are decidedly luxe.
On the subject of tweed, the iconic CHANEL suit was shown in a delicate pale pink and crisp white. With its straight or slightly trapeze cut jacket, it was done with a relaxed color, kimono sleeve, rounded shoulder, and with the slightest exaggeration to the back. For the skirt suit, a bold toned satin lining is revealed that contrasts beautifully to the subtle softness of the powdered hues of tweed used for the garment. The suit is also shown as a trompe-l’oeil dress or coat dress paired with either a chic little skirt or French culottes, each embroidered with braids that only serve to highlight the incredibly technical construction of the piece.
And gowns, oh the gowns! Dripping in the most intricate of finishings and embellishments, these pieces are the masterpieces of an already incredible collection. Featuring embroidery, feathers, sequins, beading, and ribbon detailing highlighted by pleating and sumptuous flounces that make them absolutely jaw-dropping. The embroidery in fact is a stunning nod to the floral inspired collection featuring wisteria, pansies, anemones, buttercups, carnations, and bouquets of Mademoiselle Chanel’s beloved camellias brought to life by the talented artisans of Maison Lasage, one of the CHANEL’s Métier d’Art partners. From seductive mini-dresses and sheaths, to cage dresses and voluminously skirted gowns, the dresses of the collection are the perfect representation of what makes Haute Couture so incredibly special. As for the bride, the traditional close to a Haute Couture show, Monsieur Lagerfeld so adeptly combined the masculine and the feminine with a white-tie inspired suit adorned with a flowing caplet and skirt of feathers further championing an ideal that has come to represent the heritage of this legendary house.