Twice a year, something very special happens in Paris. A handful of design houses – those who are part of the elite Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture – present collections that highlight their artistry and imagination to a selection of very lucky attendees. The garments that make up these bi-annual collections transcend the concept of fashion and enter the world of art. Lovingly handcrafted by the wondrously talented petites mains in the handful of ateliers that produce the spectacular garments that can legally be designated haute couture (and their very specialized finishings like buttons, silk flowers, feathers, pleating, lace and more), the shows that are held represent hundreds if not thousands of hours of painstakingly precise and refined artistry.
A permanent member of this vaunted body, the House of CHANEL produces one of the most highly anticipated collections and shows of each couture season. This season, the indominatable Monsieur Lagerfeld continued the tradition of presenting sheer perfection with his Fall-Winter 2017/2018 Haute Couture collection for CHANEL. While Monsieur Lagerfeld looked to the heavens for inspiration for his previous prêt-à-porter collection only a few months ago, this season’s couture collection was inspired by the glorious city under his feet, Paris and her fashionable denizens. And if one were to assume that the literal rocket ship that Lagerfeld conceived (and actually launched!) at the aforementioned prêt-à-porter show was the pinnacle of his fantastical set designs, then they would be sorely mistaken. This season, the Grand Palais, one of Paris’ most famed sites, was recreated and used to stage this celebration of the Parisienne. La Tour Eiffel served as the perfect backdrop for the Fall-Winter 2017/2018 Haute Couture collection. A marvel of the industrial era and once the tallest structure ever built, it has inspired some of the greatest artists of the 20th and 21st century like the painter Robert Delaunay who captured it through a neo-impressionist lens and with cubist inspired lines. Speaking of his own inspirations for his latest couture collection, Lagerfeld noted that it is “a vision of the revived Parisian woman, it is all about cut, shapes, silhouettes. Here the line is very delineated and graphic, it’s very modern.”
Always a standout of the haute couture collections, eveningwear reigned supreme on the runway. With a color palette of rich fall hues and luxurious fabrics like midnight blue chiffon, rust-colored charmeuse, black silk tulle and double faced satin, the intricate adornments of these gowns were highlighted to perfection. Hand-dipped feathers, delicate metallic embroidery, and lush sequined netting danced across peplum bustiers, long straight dresses, and lush tulle petticoats. As for the iconic tweed jacket, Monsieur Lagerfeld reimaged it in the form of both a long tunic, as well as a cropped and double breasted option. Worn with dome or wraparound skirts, wide-cut jumpsuits, and dresses almost tubular in shape, Lagerfeld continued to masterfully play with proportion and form with these creations. A haute couture tradition, the show closed with a bride donning a glorious confection of white double-faced satin and swathed in garlands of delicate feathers reminiscent of a bouquet of Mademoiselle Chanel’s beloved camellias.
To cap off yet another triumph of sartorial splendor, the presentation was made even more special by the presentation of the Grand Vermeil de la Ville de Paris to Monsieur Lagerfeld. Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, presented this medal in honor and appreciation for Lagerfeld’s creativity and impact on the influence of Parisian fashion around the world. An honor the couldn’t have been bestowed upon a more worthy individual.
Photography c/o CHANEL