CHANEL METIERS D’ART 2016
There’s always so much going on at aChanel show that it’s ever more difficult to keep your head together enough to know what to describe first. In the case of the latest Chanel Métiers d’Art extravaganza, which just played out in Rome, perhaps one should start with Karl Lagerfeld’s relationship with the city, which dates as far back as 1963 and his debut season designing for Tiziani.
Or maybe we should begin with the little-known fact that Coco Chanel designed for the incredible, classy ’50s actresses Jeanne Moreau, Anouk Aimée, Monica Vitti, and Romy Schneider, all of whom starred in Italian movies by Visconti and Pasolini wearing her clothes. These threads, elusively woven together like the silvery strands glinting in the tweeds and embroideries today, were the connecting idea behind the whole collection. But then the whole thing was built up, as only Chanel can manage, into a mega-faceted Sensurround event about movies and moviemaking and sets and Paris and Rome, all of it constructed for one night in Cinecittà, Italy’s “Hollywood on the Tiber.”
But really, despite all these excitements—a whole black-and-white reconstruction of Paris! A chance to roam the torch-lit avenues and temples where the TV seriesRome was shot! An open-air premiere of a film by Lagerfeld!—we should be speaking plainly about the clothes. They were some of the best—cool and sexy, with a bit of the pleasingly sleazy in places—that Lagerfeld has done in a long time. It is in Lagerfeld’s nature to bat away too much talk of themes: Every time he builds an edifice, he’ll only ever shrug off its importance in interviews. This collection might have been the result of putting Italian Neorealismo and French film noir into the cocktail shaker, but he insisted that what came out “never looked like this in the past! It is just an idea, a dream, of Paris. We need to keep dreaming, because the reality in Paris is bleak. And that is not funny.”
With their long hair teased into messy demi-beehives by Sam McKnight, the girls slouched one by one out of a fake Paris Metro station, some of them wearing long jackets shrugged over long, lace-covered legs, others in black ciré pencil skirts and patent raincoats, one in a quilted leather suit. It’s a Parisian art to suggest eroticism rather than blatantly strut it, but close up, the kink was definitely there in the metal rings planted center-front on belts and on a choker or two. (After all, this was a show taking place on Federico Fellini’s movie stage, Teatro 5.) As the show went along, so the embellishments came in, since the Métiers d’Art collection is the showcase for the intricate handwork of Chanel’s specialist craft suppliers. There were metallic embroideries and pleating on caped shapes, delicate faggoting techniques on slip dresses, and, at one point, an ovoid, coral pink–petaled dress that seemed to nod in the direction of the couturiers of Rome—Capucci, perhaps. Considering that all the people who put their expert hands to this collection must have finished it in the terrible aftermath of the attacks on Paris, its quality as well as its beauty reads as testament to what the French are so good at.