Lagerfeld inspired by 'organ pipes and music'

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The haute couture collections are the ultimate advertisement for a fashion house, a vision of glamour infusing more affordable products such as perfume with a desirable cachet.

However, after the Chanel show yesterday, Karl Lagerfeld, the house's artistic director, said he didn't have a marketing plan when it came to inspiration but that he responded to the "spirit of the moment".

According to Lagerfield's collection, this demands grand, serious and slightly stern clothes. He said it was based around "organ pipes and music". That would explain the giant steely tubes that rose to the ceiling of the Grand Palais in Paris, the organ's traditional connotations jettisoned in favour of a more futuristic feel and a metallic palette.

While a few sweetly pretty dresses broke free of monochrome and grey, most of the outfits eschewed frivolity in favour of steely severity and power. Silver sequins and beading added grandeur rather than easy glamour, while a long dress with a hood made from silk roses exuded lugubrious romance and the cold stillness of a marble statue.

Many of Chanel's clients would have been on the lookout for something more classic, and Lagerfeld knows that an estimated annual revenue of around £2bn owes a lot to the house's heritage. Accordingly, there were sleek takes on the iconic two-piece suit, some with funnel necks on salt and pepper tweed jackets, and impeccably-crafted little black dresses in black taffeta with accentuated waists.

In pictures: Paris haute couture collections

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