Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2010

I’m late. I apologize profusely. I followed the Haute Couture shows, but was so preoccupied with other endeavors that I never had the time to sit down and fully address them.  That changes today!  Having had the time to let the collections stew in my mind has definitely helped my perspective on them as well.

I may miss the occasional Ready-To-Wear show, but I have always been an ardent follower of the Haute Couture.  I am and was so impassioned by it that I did an apprenticeship at Nina Ricci Haute Couture and worked for them before their Haute Couture line met its demise. I was lucky enough to work alongside the women who made it all possible and learn the trade from them.  I can truly say that it was one of the happiest times of my life, being fully enmeshed in the craft. But enough about me and on to the shows.

Let me be honest from the start.  I am now and probably always will be a devotee of Chanel.  My Double C obsession started so long ago that I am not even sure at what age it began, perhaps even at conception.  Since being cognizant of Chanel, I have followed every show and wistfully explore their stores.  Since Lagerfeld took the reins of the house, he has maintained that fine line of producing collections that are both timeless and of the moment.  The Fall 2010 Haute Couture collection shows this genius once again.

As a tribute to Chanel’s Leo birth sign, the “catwalk” was dominated by an enormous gold lion with one paw upon a giant pearl.  Given the vast space of the Grand Palais where the collection was shown, the size of the lion and its dominance of the room was quite breathtaking.  The models moved under and around the imposing lion, which gave the collection a feeling of grandeur.

While there were still examples of Chanel’s traditional black, white and beige, this collection made a wonderful departure by emphasizing an extremely rich fall color palate. The show opened with beautiful bordeaux reds, deep espressos, dark slate blues, forest lodens and camels for day. For evening, intense jewel tones wove in and out of the signature black and white pieces. 

The lushness of the collection was further heightened by the melange of fabrics and trims: tweeds with fur, camels with crystals, plaids with velvet and delicate laces with airy chiffons and beaded accents.  Heavily embroidered and beaded tapestries and gold beadwork highlighted on a sea of deep jewel blue gave the evening looks an air of Imperial Russia.

The other part of the collection that was notable was Lagerfeld’s play with silhouette and proportion.  Hemlines ran the gamut from just above the knee to just below the calf. Proportions were varied by layering short over long, tiers, long flared coats with elbow length sleeves and the illusion of a cropped jacket on top and the play of sheers under and over varying lengths of solids.  The opening looks had a subtle military feel to them that flowed into the more regal part of the collection.

The thing about Lagerfeld’s Haute Couture that holds me in awe is that this collection was not a series of contrived “costumes” like so many of the competitors.  Make no mistake, these are wearable elegant clothes. The beauty of the collection lies in the craftsmanship that perhaps is lost at times from a distance.  But up close, the construction of the garments, the intricate seaming, the intense hand beading and embroidery, the exquisite fabrics all come together to make a collection that once again for me says it all.  It is all about beauty and the craft of the Haute Couture.

Once again, Lagerfeld has created the kind of elegance that Chanel herself would have applauded.

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