Lagerfeld takes Chanel back to the brash styles of the 1980s

By Susannah Frankel,Fashion Editor
Wednesday 08 August 2012 06:03

Lagerfeld has previously whipped up an indoor snowstorm and a paparazzi stampede as a backdrop against which to flaunt his credentials. Yesterday, he had matters more computer-literate in mind.

The location couldn't have been more impressive. The newly renovated Grand Palais is one of the French capital's most celebrated landmarks. At the back of the space, Lagerfeld erected a monolithic computer screen. Models walked the long runway and back before taking their places on each individual square.

But what of the clothes? Suffice it to say that this collection seemed more overtly status-driven than it has done for some time. The decade most visibly referenced - the 1980s - is a harsh one and Chanel today is more appealing when subtle, even soft. There were puffball skirts aplenty. One in particular was covered in large, appliquéd camellias. The requisite Chanel suit came in oversized dog-tooth check, also looking quite brash with a short-sleeved cropped jacket and pleated knee-length skirt. More delicacy was achieved in the little black dress section. Chanel introduced this staple of modern womenswear to the world back in the 1920s and Lagerfeld sends it out every season. This time round it seemed to nod to the prom queen in taffeta with a girlish skirt or silk chiffon with a black satin trim.

Of course, Chanel wouldn't be Chanel without more than its share of the accessories upon which the empire relies. With this in mind, chain-belts, necklaces and charm bracelets, all featuring the company's interlocking C logo, will no doubt be suitably successful. The new Chanel bag is small and hard, shaped like a camera case or perfectly circular, finished with everything from the house's famous quilting to a futuristic whorl.

The young designer Hussein Chalayan's collection was a rather more contemplative affair. Chalayan took the staples of bourgeois fashion and softened them withbeautiful tubes of fabric which wound their way around more than a few outfits. "I was trying to look at the typical notion of bourgeois clothes and direct it towards nature with plant like structures," Chalayan said.

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