Elisabeth Quin

  • October 8th, 2012
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    Chanel showed the world more than just its take on fashion: the Spring-Summer 2013 collection presented at the Grand Palais on Tuesday morning was set amidst a field of wind turbines, and could have easily been a statement on going green!

    With breezy, natural looks, unrestrained youth, mobility, understated luxury, empathy towards others and inventiveness, the show was a whimsical way to pass on a message for the fall of 2012: the winds of change are blowing with alternative energies and fresh new fashions!

    Is Chanel poised to join American essayist Jeremy Rifkin, the third industrial revolution theorist who advocates for a low carbon economy?

    The models walked the runway in looks flooded with fresh color: a purple pantsuit with a three-quarter sleeve jacket trimmed in emerald, a Klein blue suit and sack dress, a pink and mauve satin dress and pants ensemble, a crimson loose-fitting mid-length soft leather jacket, a sand-colored strapless washed lambskin micro-dress, and a stunning series of evening dresses in satiny brown with quilted effects that showcased transparency and fluidity.

    The multi-colored version of the House's signature tweed (a textile “tour de force”) was an apotheosis of color, and looked absolutely stunning on a leg-o-mutton sleeve top and bubble dress ensemble trimmed in fuchsia. It was simply explosive with an ultra-colorful version used for a luxurious, striking shorts-jacket ensemble with puff sleeves, as well as a short loose-fitting dress with three-quarter sleeves embroidered with bronze sequins mid-thigh ("a strange golden bronze color," as Homer describes the island of Stromboli, Kingdom of Aeolus, in the Odyssey). Arrayed in an endless palette of summer colors, this tweed proved powerful in its visual impact.

    Finally, white took to the runway with Peter Pan collars (a favorite of Gabrielle Chanel), Pierrot collars and a floppy bow on the front of a crewneck dress, as well as a tweed and white poplin polo dress, for an updated Suzanne Lenglen-at-Eden Roc look. White was also seen in the evening series with incredibly fresh and refined summer evening looks: white strapless dresses (two short and three long) in mesh or piqué, embellished with Rhodoid plastic flowers or pearls.

    The silhouette for summer 2013 is long and slim (seen in Chanel's incredible use of black mesh for a pants set that is as elegant as it is graphic and sensual), and borders on androgynous, a classic attribute of the Chanel woman. Waists are cinched, perfect for strapless dresses (the highlight of this collection), mini-boleros and micro-jackets. Mile-long legs create symmetry and are showcased by micro-shorts and miniskirts while bubble dresses show off the ankles.

    The collection's accessories are a perfect blend of timeless Chanel style and modernity: chunky, clustered "caviar effect" pearl bracelets and necklaces and oversized sun hats with transparent colored plastic brims.
    Karl Lagerfeld has clearly designed and created a silhouette for a more youthful woman with greater impetuosity and sensuality who will be flawlessly carried by "a favorable gale, a fresh West Wind" (Homer) into summer.

  • July 6th, 2012
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    Chanel, New Vintage Couture Collection

    Revolution at the Palais! This breathtaking glass construction spanning 1 200 square meters was inaugurated at the World's Fair in 1900 (at that time, Coco Chanel was 17 years old, still boarding at Aubazine Cistercian Abbey in Corrèze, and was already highly skilled in needlework). The Salon d'Honneur at the Grand Palais had not been used for a hundred years and Karl Lagerfeld was rejoicing in the idea of revealing this hidden treasure, transformed for the event into a dreamy, watery urban garden. With white wicker armchairs, pale gray walls, anthracite paving, lemonade and canapés and the dappled trompe-l'œil sky on the ceiling, the atmosphere was a touch romantic, old-fashioned and marvelously civilized. The reappearance of a Proustian world, a Thomas Mann universe, a dreamland.

    Adding another layer of refinement, the pink and gray colors of the collection were inspired by the palette of Marie Laurencin. Impossible to dissociate the collection from her works: La jeune femme à l’écharpe, La femme au foulard, Domenica or even Les Biches; the two last canvases are kept at the Musée de l'Orangerie. With the line's fluid, slender forms, the flurries of chiffon, this ethereal, delicate femininity, through which the androgyny so treasured by Coco Chanel cleverly avoids vapidity, is confirmation of a daring modernity.
    What is this New Vintage, this oxymoron that amuses Karl Lagerfeld?

    It is a way of expressing the historical nature of the House and the collection, recalling the first decade of the 1900s with style, a Peter Pan collar in white organza and a flared black velvet dress as a tribute to Colette; the 1920s is reflected with low-waists, narrow hips, clear lines, the love of lamé; the 60s with resolutely pop chromatic boldness, like a bubblegum pink color on a stunning suit, canary yellow; the 70s, full pants and puffed shirts with ascots, studded belts, low-slashed V-neck chic gypsy gandouras, bare backs cut down to the kidneys, extremely rare at Chanel; and the beginning of the glam-rock 80s is represented with glitter and pearlized pantyhose.

    A succession of allusions in a magnificent, incredibly coherent collection, worth an oxymoron in these times of economic crisis: a luxuriously simple collection. Because though the silhouette is simple, free of ostentation or extravagance, free of jewelry or accessories, except for the long, ultra-fine leather cuffs – a foppish gothic touch – the materials and details are alarmingly opulent and luxurious.

    Embroidery (ah, these sophisticated angora wool motifs, pearly-pink micro-tubes, rhinestone spinning tops, tiny clover flowers on tulle)! Gossamer compositions created by the plumassier Lemarié; from the almost invisible long white tulle coat embroidered with delicate feathers in heart designs, to the miraculous bridal gown with its feather skirt and high feather collar! Evening gowns are embroidered with virginal chiffon studded with pale pink camellias. Embroidered real and “faux” tweed with unparalleled softness, worked into gorgeous evening jackets with 3/4 length sleeves, in a black and white suit, and in a mat and shiny coat dress. Finally, blue-pink and gray-pink lamé, gradually sliding into blue towards a pomegranate sunset, from gray to a gloriously pink dawn, straight from the palette of... Marie Laurencin.

    In 1922, two years before Laurencin painted her Biches, Marcel Proust died. “Fashions change, themselves born from the need to change”, as found in his "Within a Budding Grove"/"In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower”.

    Chanel and the New Vintage, or a journey through time!

    Photo by Olivier Saillant

  • May 23rd, 2012
    Par Elisabeth Quin

    CRUISE 2012/13

    Fountains of youth for Chanel at the Chateau de Versailles

    Chanel has set the tone for its Cruise 2012/13 collection by selecting the Bosquet des Trois Fontaines at the Château de Versailles as the setting for its runway. Adorned with shells, rock formations and fountains, the grove was designed in 1677 by France's Sun King, Louis XIV (a charismatic monarch, lover of Versailles, friend to the arts and a man of many talents – like a certain Karl?), and was constructed by his gardener André Le Nôtre. The result is a youthful, playful, elegant and whimsical collection, modern yet Baroque at the same time.
    The gardens were filled with the winds of a grunge fantasy on Monday evening, set to the sounds of harpsichord music and electro Michael Jackson remixes.

    Inspired by the rebellious spirit of La Fronde, the collection boasted bob-styled wigs in an array of pastels or in jet black, chopped high at the back of the head (bringing the infamous guillotine to mind) and worn over long ponytails tied with ribbons. Even more radical was the dramatic makeup of these young party-girl marchionesses wandering through boxwood mazes and sighing gardens in a pale Twilight-inspired palette with tiny interlocking CC beauty marks under their eyes.

    However, the truly revolutionary look of this Cruise collection made its triumphant entrance as the first models appeared: edgy "luxury street wear" platform sneakers and lace ruffled crinoline split skirts, an artistic blend of classicism and street style. Knee-length pedal pushers that button snugly below the knee showcased movement, youthfulness and lightweight style. Paired with gold platform sneakers, these soft denim breeches are one of Karl Lagerfeld's fetish items. Gold-embroidered sleeveless denim jackets with military details created an opulent, offbeat look while white tweed jackets braided with patriotic colors of scarlet pink, blue and white were an ultra-trendy nod to the country's revolutionary heritage.

    Our favorite looks included palazzo pants paired with three-quarter sleeve lace-adorned jackets, a white blouse with gigot sleeves peeping out from underneath a tailored jacket, mini-skirts swishing with every step, gracefully noble waistcoats, and an edgy rock-inspired black jacket embroidered with sequins and zipped up over a short marquisette skirt. The pleated gold skirt paired with a white sweatshirt fitted at the waist was simply regal, while colored acetate inlays and applications on virgin-white dresses summarized Chanel's take on how to successfully blend eighteenth-century style with twenty-first-century materials.

    Upon leaving the Bosquet des Trois Fontaines at dusk after this aristo-rock ball infused with youth, tenderness and frivolity (the ingredients for enduring nostalgia), we were reminded of the words of Jean de La Bruyère: "The most delicate, the most sensible of all pleasures, consists in promoting the pleasure of others." Chanel, indeed.

  • March 9th, 2012
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    A crystal clear favorite. Easy yet impossible to resist given the spectacular décor laid on to stage the collection at Grand Palais. From an immaculate floor, glittering like sugar or snow, sprouted a forest of gigantic crystals in dark purple, white, translucent and grey-tinged hues. Honoring the House’s jewelry-making heritage, this silent, alien landscape emerged as an oversized mineral fantasy world, as enchanting as Chanel’s attention to detail and pointed playfulness. After all, crystals are rock hard at heart.

    Crystal is the emblem of the collection, magnanimously adorning torque necklaces, coat lapels, dry handle tweed dresses, magnificent makeup by Peter&nbsp;Philips – and embroidered eyebrows by Lesage. Crystal emerges as a mysterious mass rendered almost magical by its luminosity. In this mass of neatly-arranged atoms, the atom motif is repeated in a regular pattern, with the smallest element reproduced to form the lattice structure, the rock hard atomic mass.
    The Chanel silhouette for this fall delivers generously on zest, spirit and style. Undersized heads and slicked-back hair are offset by asymmetric faded leather sandals, towering crystal-studded Plexiglas heels, figure-hugging pants and glamorous leggings that cling like a second skin for added allure.

    This brand of allure comes armed with myriad methods of seduction: streetwear is transfigured by embroidery and the skilful cut of tweed parkas; femininity conquers all. Layering emerges as the guiding philosophy of the collection. Flared skirts are paired with ultra-refined buttoned pants and tweed jackets. This trio is transformed by sumptuous short coats worn over sleek dry handle tweed dresses, moss-green statement leggings, an amethyst jacket, and a bias-buttoned skirt, or a dramatically casual ensemble of pants, dress and cropped jacket in taupe laminated lace.

    The hood is the accessory of the moment: Omnipresent yet playful in oversized luxuriance or embroidered with tiny crystals. The hood communicates a modern-day femininity that moves to the beat of life on the street, for the Chanel girl permanently plugged in to the complex and hectic age she inhabits.
    Traditionally a trapping of children, monks and rappers, the hood conceals the face while flattering the features, keeping it safe from harm...
    Garlands of feathers in understated fall tones festoon dainty collars, the shoulders of a coat and a fully embroidered jacket.

    Magnificent sweeping tweed coats belted at the back are modeled in trademark Chanel casual style: why shouldn’t hands stay in their pockets?
    Amethyst and emerald jeans streaked with vibrant stitching add to an irresistible mishmash of tweed pants bedecked in grey and white, a chunky chain knit sweater, and an outrageous mosaic print cheche. A winter maiden suddenly manifests in a simple sheer black dress, an anthracite-toned cheche wound around her neck in an ethereal poetic vision.

    Majestic jewelry pervades the collection, attesting to the power of the mineral in osmosis with the feminine: overlapping of crystal-studded metal cuffs, bib necklaces speckled with turquoise and stormy-hued gems, and 1970s-inspired crystal-spangled geometric necklaces.

    Backstage photos by Benoît Peverelli

  • February 3rd, 2012
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    Escapism for the soul. A love-fuelled flight that never leaves the ground! Love permeates the Spring-Summer 2012 Haute Couture collection: love of excellence, materials, showmanship, and the precious skill of artisan craftsmen devoted to Chanel. Lagerfeld's sense of humor is present, as well... "Catch me if you can": Tuesday, January 24th, in the Grand Palais, aboard a meticulous replica of an aircraft cabin, something of the carefree spirit of the sixties was in the air with its mythology of air travel in those Pan Am years. Mischievous-looking air hostesses, refreshing clean lines and a warm elegance welcomed in 2012 with smiles all around. No Business Class here; everyone is seated in First Class – this is democracy according to Chanel!

    As magnificent clouds drifted above our heads – a serious infringement of aircraft manufacturing standards – the collection began with a series of stunningly pure short daytime dresses featuring rouleau necklines and drop waistbands with low pockets, favoring the signature stance of this collection: hands in pockets. Hands free of any accessories, minds free of bourgeois constraints, very Coco-Chanel-casual, elegant, with a dash of insolence. As is fitting for a collection perched between earth and sky, the Couture comes in all shades of blue, a color as synonymous with infinity as it is with opulence and royalty. Slate, sapphire, lavender, deep marble, cobalt, lapis lazuli, navy and midnight blue, not forgetting Chanel’s beloved black.

    All shades sparkled as the light bounced off sequins and crystals, cabochon, feather and rhinestone embroidery work. From mat to glossy, we yearned to touch the puff-sleeved dress swathed in light-blue sequins and embroidered with rainbow and peacock-eye motifs. We longed to carefully stroke the long grey-blue tweed skirt embroidered with iridescent strands, the tweed metamorphosing into lace as if by magic. Long black coat-dresses, the drama of the short black dress with straps hugging the neck, profiling a gymnast’s neckline, and the breathtakingly graceful counterbalance achieved by two bird-of-paradise pleated-sculpted sleeves.

    A masterful collection navigating between 1920s silhouettes, 1960s graphic design, and the furious sulking of 1980s punk with crypto-mohawks accentuated with sumptuous head jewelry (a far cry from the crust punk look). Shimmering camellias, gem-studded moons, feathers sprouting forth with a celestial rustling. Stockings embroidered with constellations of stars above the knee have joined the pantheon of coveted items in the collection.

    A cloud drifts through the cabin – nice touch! This cloud is as misty as a heart-wrenchingly pure evening gown. The show has come to an end. We raise our eyes to the glass ceiling and glimpse a starry night sky.
    "A supersonic jet cuts off my thoughts with a Bang, trailing its signature across the sky, silent, curling, white, white" (Louis Aragon)

  • December 14th, 2011
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    The scent of jasmine escapes from the Galerie Courbe of the Grand Palais; unusual for Paris in the month of December. Industrial metal rafters heave under the strain of immense crystal chandeliers. Aging brick walls are covered in pale grey marble fashioned into the façade of a Mughal palace. A dream-like fantasy. Baskets laden with mangoes, roses and pistachio nuts bask in the golden glow of candlelight. A silver toy train chugs steadily along yard after yard of electric track mounted on a princely banquet table of such lavish proportions never seen west of Jaisalmer.

    Smoke billows out of a Chanel-double-C-branded chimney. This charming Dar(jee)ling Express is an allegory of the presentation: traveling without moving, beyond the constraints of time, to an imaginary India recreated in the Maharajas’ palace of the Grand Palais by Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel to honor the Métiers d’Art so prized by the House. It is a perfectly obvious match: India is made for Chanel. Coco Chanel herself designed a number of pieces inspired by Indian dress in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

    Materials drip with opulence: silk brocade, gold and silver lamé, crepe, duchess satin, pearls, embroidery, hand-painted Mughal floral motifs, and cascading pearls.
    Androgynous traditional dress takes a lighthearted, eminently graceful leap: fitted white jodhpurs under a white tweed jacket; sinuous “salwar” pajama pants worn beneath flowing “kameez” tunics studded with rhinestones or emblazoned with golden sheaves of wheat against a black background; saris and harem pants paired with exquisite salwars or soft white zipped leather thigh boots stamped with motifs, in rhinestone-studded pomegranate velvet. Typically sensuous draping flows freely in a rustle of harem skirts, the signature piece of this collection. We love the rhinestone-sprinkled military frock coat, the various interpretations of the “achkan”, and the brocade coat with classic Nehru collar, glinting with mirror-embroidered pockets or studded with baroque pearls.

    We are yearning after the biker-inspired military jacket embroidered with a dazzle of gold glitter and worn over a white paneled flared skirt embroidered with gold braiding, fit for a whirling dervish. We swoon at the sight of the diamante-shouldered jacket crackling with the deafeningly Indian heat of “rani” pink, sumptuously tamed by a tailored tweed jacket worn over gold lamé harem pants and a perfectly-proportioned black-and-pink tailored suit. And we are swept away in the fantasy of a white evening dress and its endlessly expressive “dupatta” scarf. The Fugitive, as the poet Rabindranath Tagore would describe it.

    An array of virginal flat sandals makes for a free-flowing, youthful look, set off by neo-rock mojari-inspired pumps and gold-sequined flat ankle boots that hark back to the days of Swinging London. Jeweled leather and silver-chained fingerless gloves and disheveled rasta dreadlocks give a luxuriant hippie twist to the 1970s Goa vibe of Michel Gaubert’s psychedelic soundtrack.

    This enchanting Métiers d’Art collection, a salute to master craftsmanship, ultimately glorifies an imaginary India. Yet its heroine’s ultra-modern look, both androgynous and feminine, is distilled from Indian spiritual heritage: Shiva and Shakti, male and female forces united and reconciled. The Chanel woman has found her dharma.

    Photo © Olivier Saillant

  • October 13th, 2011
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    Jules Verne? Wes Anderson? Georges Méliès? Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? This stunning recreation of the ocean floor, this immaculate white landscape of seaweed, stingrays, sharks and shells, daring the dream with candor and an optimistic, rather than desolate, idea of fashion.

    So, captivated by an extravagant dream, enthralled, and traveling even before the show commenced, spectators awaited the various versions of the underwater theme throughout the collection.

    It was a masterpiece: deceptively simple but never dull. Mermaids in slinky sheath dresses were not on the program. Instead, there were more youthful and light silhouettes than ever. Lots of long, tapering limbs, knee-revealing dresses and skirts, luxurious and loose knitwear, wonderful white sweaters worn over full skirts, the very image of elegance without pretension. We loved the mini-mini shorts in laminated denim worn under unstructured jackets, the little top embroidered like a bed of sea anemones, jackets sensually cut along the small of the back, the dress embroidered with bronze-colored scales. The collection seems to capture the shimmering light of the sun on the waves.

    The tweed is iridescent with Lurex and mother-of-pearl applications chiseled onto suits. Extensive work on the materials reinforces the modernity and the energy of the profiles: rhodoid, neoprene and plastic accentuate the feeling of lightness. A silicon lace biker jacket designed by Sophie Halette is complimented by sinewy black plastic piping for the ultimate refined look. It is as though two hands had dived into the sea foam and brought back a jacket.

    Subtle humour permeates the collection. The dress with embroidered shoulders bears a trompe-l’oeil of lacy seaweed below the waistline. Karl Lagerfeld has been having more fun than ever!

    Heels shaped like coral branches or beaded shells, earrings and rings in the shape of sea urchins, shell-shaped clutch bags, rectangular quilted bags enchained like certain packages recovered by the sea customs… all enraptured the audience. The haunting black and white or silver-colored ankle boots gave movement and a subtle touch of the Swinging Sixties in London to the shapes.
    The evening was sumptuous and youthful, with lengths remaining above the ankle, diaphanous volumes, lace, gemstones, sparkling embroidery, a spirit in-keeping with both the celestial and the aquatic.

    Pearl, the iconic motif of the House of Chanel, was in its element! Assembled in delicate belts on some short dresses, it transformed into a sort of skin embroidery to create almost an almost surreal alignment down the spine.
    Lightness, inventiveness and refinement for an intensely invigorating collection that ends with a Botticelli-style appearance of the singer Florence Welch, emerging from a giant shell to sing, accompanied by a harp player.

    While her striking voice filled the Grand Palais, Paul Valéry’s words in ‘The Graveyard by the Sea’ came to mind:
    “A freshness, exhalation of the sea,
    Restores my soul . . . Salt-breathing potency!
    Let's run at the waves and be hurled back to living!”

    This collection was exactly that, living!

    Photo © Olivier Saillant

  • July 13th, 2011
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    From the dizzy heights of whimsy, perched atop a black and white column on a replica Place Vendôme, a monochrome Coco Chanel decidedly wasn’t welcoming her guests at the Haute Couture runway show in the Grand Palais, Paris. Stonily surveying the evening-time hustle and bustle of summer 2011, the fashion world, and indeed the century, the arrogance of Coco’s stance is irreverently turned on its head as we lift our gaze and see right up her skirt. The ‘behind-the-scenes’ of fashion, we presume. Karl Lagerfeld ever fondly amuses himself with the muse. His Haute Couture collection spectacularly sweeps us through the silhouettes, fetishes and emblems that inform the Chanel aesthetic, from 1880 to 2011.

    Staying for the moment in 2011, androgynous touches peek out from behind ultra-feminine constraints, luxury resists ostentation, and sheer elegance is infiltrated with unmistakably edgy cool. A boat-neck fuchsia evening gown is accessorized with embroidered black voile fingerless gloves. And the rocker overtones are stepped up a notch with a biker-esque zip running the length of a quilted evening skirt suit, unapologetic alongside sequin and embroidery detail. Feather, voile and lace fringing gives sass and spirit to black and white swans of the evening.
    Lagerfeld offers a fresh spin on Godet skirts, sumptuous accented basque jackets, Peter Pan collars, collarless suits and straight-cut suits, with a sexily-slashed shoulder here, a glittering optical illusion of rhinestone buttons there, or perhaps a classic Karl high-necked collar to show off the ladylike posture of a head held high. Two-toned boots are transparent or fully embroidered by Massaro, exuding youth and movement.

    Looking back to 1880, the boater hat is the sassy accessory of choice. It crops up throughout the collection, adorned with feathers, tulle or ribbon, embroidered, scattered with camellias, covered in tweed, serving every turn, and punctuating the collection like an exclamation mark. The boater hat is forever tied to Coco Chanel who, loving its simplicity, borrowed it from the garb of rowers and bicycling aficionados in the early 20th century, and promptly made it her own. The starry night in the Grand Palais conjures Renoir’s 1881 painting “Luncheon of the Boating Party”, which depicts a scene at the Maison Fournaise in Chatou, France. To the strains of a boating refrain: “In their jerseys and straw hats, the rowers are more charming than any of these young dandies!” (from Alain Chartier’s 1859 painting “Canotage, Glouglou, Stella et Mignonne”).
    This dazzling collection gaily skips back and forth through the decades to offer a young, ever elegant silhouette… with sass.

    Watch the full show online on chanel.com

  • May 19th, 2011
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    “A miracle of foamy light suspended from the stars.” This is how the novelist Scott Fitzgerald described the magic of the French Riviera in the 1920s. The Cruise evening held at Eden-Roc on Monday, May 9th was haloed in this same miracle.
    Strolling in through the Hôtel du Cap’s enchanted pine forest, Vanessa Paradis, Caroline de Monaco, Anna Mouglalis, Blake Lively, and other happy fews took their seats at little tables lining both sides of the central avenue leading down to the sea. The Earth seemed to tilt to the gentle incline of spring... The collection was magnificently defined from the outset: less “young in the sixties” than the 2010/11 Saint-Tropez Cruise collection, Karl Lagerfeld wanted this Cruise collection to be very feminine, very sexy, and very glamorous, loaded with references to the mythology of the French Riviera in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, yet unhampered by nostalgia. Nostalgia is the enemy of movement. The focus was placed on daffodil-yellow and purple fitted tailored suits that feel like a second skin, accentuated by wonderful neo-Japanese futuristic boots cut out around the toes. This created long silhouettes and a contemporary look!
    The geometric black and white of a cardigan and flowing cloak recalled a pictorial composition from the 1920s by Fernand Léger. A series of swimwear studded with rhinestones and cut very high on the thighs conjured up the whimsy of Marie-Laure and Charles de Noailles and their avant-garde, gymnastic art film Biceps et Bijoux (“Biceps and Jewels”). Speaking of jewels, sublime stones were also present, with jewelry the designated Queen of the collection. The quintessential little black Chanel dress sparkled with a diamond-studded Comète necklace draped over Karolina Kurkova's shoulder. Here on this legendary Riviera, in this world suspended between dreams and reality, jewels – like marquises – come out at five o’ clock for a dip in the sea. “Sea salt corrodes costume jewelry, but diamonds love sea water. Enough of those old diktats about only wearing jewelry in the evening!” joked Karl Lagerfeld.
    Like a scene from a movie, Kirsten Mc Menamy swept past with a stunningly handsome young male entourage. Suddenly the scent of Hollywood filled the evening air, as if the 1940s Rita Hayworth, wife of Ali Khan, was among us... and yet light years away… glamorous of course. Could these personalities in ribbed cardigans and wonderfully flowing trenches really be Beau Gosse, Perlouse and La Championne de Tennis from "Le Train Bleu"? This musical operetta was written by Cocteau and Milhaud and costumed by Coco Chanel in 1924.
    After being wowed by the timeless chic of the Cruise collection with its past and present muses, the company were seated on little wooden chairs for a screening of Karl Lagerfeld’s latest short film, "Tale of a Fairy". Shot by the maestro over three days and alternating between black and white and color, the film explores androgyny and the intermittency of love, and met with rapt applause.
    Given the emotion, three powerful female characters and strong direction recalling the work of Ophüls and Thomas Winterberg, the full-length feature movie is now eagerly anticipated. As Fairy handed over the stage to Ferry, dandy crooner Brian Ferry treated the company to a beautifully intimate concert that mirrored the magical elegance of Eden-Roc and the Cruise collection. Love is the drug. Beauty is a manifesto.

  • May 2nd, 2011
    Par Elisabeth Quin


    A peaceful sensuous spaceship. A futurist dream. A great sleeping beast, soft and gleaming. The arrival of Mobile Art by Zaha Hadid in the front square of the Arab World Institute (AWI) in Paris may well look like an hallucination, but its presence is nonetheless both powerful and real.
    After stopping over in Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York in 2008, showcasing the work of contemporary artists inspired by Chanel’s aesthetic codes, the travelling exhibition pavilion has found a home.
    Designed in 2007, the pavilion was commissioned for Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, a huge admirer of Zaha Hadid’s work. "Design a pavilion for me!" he said to her. And (mobile!) art was born.
    The result was a donut-like mobile structure weighing 80 tons, measuring 45 meters in length with 700 m² of floor space. The aerodynamic look is balanced with sophisticated technology.
    Chanel donated Mobile Art to the AWI following a request from the AWI chairman, Dominique Baudis. Not as corporate sponsorship, but as a straightforward donation with no strings attached, motivated purely by Chanel’s passion for art.
    To celebrate this triple acquisition – for architecture, town planning and the political sphere – the AWI hosted an inaugural evening on 28th April, with Karl Lagerfeld and the two Pritzker prize-winning "starchitects" Zaha Hadid and Jean Nouvel.
    Mobile Art is the first work in Paris by the Iraqi-born British architect. Finally! Her installation in the front square of the Arab World Institute provokes an exciting moving dialogue between two masterpieces: the AWI building, designed in 1981 by Jean Nouvel and inaugurated in 1987, looms as an imposing perfect rectangle decorated with mashrabiyas in a powerful symbolic tribute to the Arab architectural tradition, and Mobile Art, which embodies intuition and constructivism through its organic forms and inner "skin".
    These two architectural concepts are based on two principles, one masculine, the other eminently feminine and sensitive.
    The dialogue has taken shape. Contrasting and complementing forms. Magical osmosis. After the inaugural exhibition - "Zaha Hadid: An Architecture"- which drives the spectator into Hadid’s fascinating work on parametricism, the Mobile Art will serve from October 2011 as an exhibition space for contemporary art from the Arab world.
    "We live amidst concrete and dreams," observed Adam Zagajewski, one of the poets who attended the inauguration. The dream is right there in the front square of the Arab World Institute.

    Photo: Delphine Achard

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