Every few months, I end up waxing poetic about the latest CHANEL collection. It’s quite easy after all, the House of CHANEL continues to be a leading light in the world of fashion. Producing some of the most incredible prêt-à-porter and couture collections as well as lust worthy fine and costume jewelry and accessories as well, it’s quite easy to see why this distinction is very well deserved. Under Karl Lagerfeld’s expert eye, the House has continued as the grande dame of fashion thanks to his masterful approach to preserving Gabrielle Chanel’s original vision while weaving in his own exquisite take on the modern CHANEL woman. With each season, Monsieur Lagerfeld enchants the world yet again thanks to his stunning collections and jaw-dropping presentations. However, I would venture to say that Monsieur Lagerfeld’s annual Métiers d’Art shows are some of the most spectacular collections that he has produced to date. Shown outside the typical fashion and couture week schedules, these shows have been staged around the globe with each location inspiring that year’s collection. While this in itself is quite special, it is Lagerfeld’s devotion and honoring of the ateliers that the House of CHANEL partners with that are highlighted through these collections that stands out so. Each Métiers d’Art collection highlights the incredibly specialized artisans and ateliers who create the buttons, lace, millinery, embroidery, feathers, flowers, and more that adorn and complete many a CHANEL garment. With modernity pushing automation and machine-made products become the norm, the fact that CHANEL continues to rely on these traditional modes of creation is helping to not only keep this type of artistry alive, but preserve it and train new generations of artisans. I firmly believe that not only are the CHANEL Métiers d’Art collections incredible in their beauty, they are also incredibly important to the preservation of the worlds of fashion, art, and design.
For the 2017/2018 Métiers d’Art collection, Lagerfeld looked to his birthplace of Hamburg Germany and its newly inaugurated Elbphilharmonie concert hall. Located in the commercial port of the city, the Elbphilharmonie played host to a nautical inspired collection that was both a beautiful homage to Gabrielle Chanel and Lagerfeld’s love of intertwining the masculine and the feminine. Mademoiselle Chanel showed her own nautical inspired collection in 1917 with the traditional Breton striped top of the French Navy becoming an instant classic thanks to its prominence in the collection. Monsieur Lagerfeld has given a beautiful nod to this emblematic collection and has melded it perfectly with his own decidedly elegant take on a navy crew’s pea coats, drop-front trousers, caps, and of course, striped tops. Interjected with chic little mini-skirts, and swoon worthy evening wear, the collection is beautifully feminine with a bold hint of daring.
Fabrications run from the classic CHANEL tweed to cashmere, flannel, silk crepe, and chiffon. Embellishments, oh the embellishments! This is where a CHANEL Métiers d’Art collection truly shines and Paris-Hamburg does not disappoint. Lovingly handcrafted, dipped, dyed, and crafted to sheer perfection, feathers, embroidery, beading, rhinestones, mother of pearl, sequins, braiding, draping, weaving, and pleating shine through a color palette of black, beige, grey, navy, white, red, and gold.
Even though evening was shown at the close of the presentation, I’ll start my declaration of sartorial obsession with these dreamy confections. Sinuous sheath dresses, asymmetrical gowns, impeccably executed tuxedos, and mini dresses were adorned with sequins, embroidery, hand painted feathers, and Valenciennes lace. The humble Breton strip was found on many pieces – not just in eveningwear, but also throughout the rest of the collection and elevated thanks to Lagerfeld’s decidedly luxe and bejewelled take on this French classic.
As for the much beloved CHANEL jacket, it was done as a flared and feminine pea coat. Yet another perfectly executed nautical nod that was beautifully thematic without veering into the “costumy.” And as for the iconic CHANEL suit, it was shown in an embellished tweed with a daring hemline in the form of a mini-skirt, or with a naval inspired pinstriped trouser paired with a trim little jacket with open cuffs and an officer’s collar. In fact, menswear inspired tailoring is seen throughout the rest of the beautifully executed collection. From the double button drop-front “sailor skirt,” to the slouchy oversized thigh skimming fisherman’s sweaters worn as dresses, Lagerfeld has deftly mixed the masculine and the feminine as only he can with the Paris-Hamburg Métiers d’Art collection.
And lest I forget accessories, make sure to check back on Monday. I’ll be sharing an exclusive look at these incredible pieces in detail. A Runway Report not to be missed!
Photography via CHANEL