Lagerfeld comes up with a subtle new definition of beauty for Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld opened the day's proceedings in Paris yesterday with an haute couture collection for the house of Chanel that was as beautifully controlled as it is possible to imagine this most rarefied of craft forms to be.

As if to drive home the potency of the iconic Chanel jacket, a monolithic version of it, finished to look like stone, took centre stage. Models in the more familiar bouclé wool variety soon followed – this season's interpretation looked lovely in ivory and palest apricot or rose.

This was a modest collection at first glance, by couture standards at least. Understated hair and make-up and flat pumps throughout only added to a young, fresh and optimistic mood.

Moulded silver sequinned dresses, perfectly proportioned tuxedo jackets that stood away from the torso just a little and a skirt that was so tiny that a pair of jewelled cycling shorts were needed to keep modesty intact harked back to the 1960s and the Space Age fashions of Cardin, Courreges et al. This, fused with more than a nod to the 1980s – which Lagerfeld understands well – made for refreshingly metropolitan viewing.

No one would ever accuse the southern French- born designer Christian Lacroix of restraint, although he also referenced the 1980s in his offering for the spring/summer couture season – and his own work of that era in particular. Where Chanel favoured an almost entirely monochromatic colour palette, in this instance colour and embellishment were, conversely, key.

A deepest emerald chiffon gown was tied with vivid turquoise satin ribbon, an overblown fuchsia taffeta puffballl was overlaid with delicate gold lace and a huge, hand-painted silk evening coat with rainbow coloured feathered neckline even boasted its own jewelled starfish when seen from behind.

In the end, the difference between the two collections only served to emphasise the function of the twice-yearly haute couture. These are not clothes that are influenced by anything as ephemeral as passing trends. Instead, the Chanel customer is persuaded to part with tens of thousands of pounds for the understated and often slightly androgynous chic that the house's namesake first gave to women in the 1920s.

With this in mind, the fine workmanship of the couture ateliers was very much in evidence – a layered silk skirt gathered round the hips to look like a single white camellia bloom; chiffon so delicately tufted it looked like feathers – but the overall effect was relatively subtle nonetheless.

Subtlety is not a word one would readily use to describe the look of the Christian Lacroix couture devotee, however. Instead, here were dresses designed to dazzle those unafraid to wear their maximal credentials proudly on their hand-embroidered sleeves.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions