March 12th, 2015Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
The Fall-Winter 2015/16 Ready-to-Wear collection was unveiled within a bistro environment designed by Karl Lagerfeld which he named the "Brasserie Gabrielle". This larger-than-life "brasserie," an institution that has long embodied the Parisian lifestyle, was constructed inside the Grand Palais and perfectly conveyed the spirit of the collection.
Using vocabulary that its creator deemed "very French," this "French Collection" reinterprets the wardrobe of a modern "bourgeoise," a woman who exudes Parisian chic and cosmopolitan culture, who could grace the streets of any major city around the world. The "new bourgeoise,” as dubbed by Karl Lagerfeld, is accessorized day to night in beige and black slingback shoes with a squared heel. This is the first time since the designer's arrival at Chanel that he has explored this iconic shoe, of which he revamped its proportions. All 97 models of the collection wore these two-tone shoes, which make the legs look thinner and bestow a woman with confidence.
The silhouettes ranged from extremely feminine to sometimes androgynous, in colors such as navy, gray and burgundy and in prints such as tartan or houndstooth. The common thread of the collection was Chanel's emblematic tweed, which was reinvented in the form of zipped or preciously buttoned up coatdresses trimmed with woven braid. It also manifested in pencil skirts cut just below the knee or at calf-length, elegant suit-jackets and large wool coats, in jackets “à berthe” or with large collars, and in flowing skirts. The subtly flared silhouettes were fitted at the waist with a skinny belt. Urban and all about comfort, the elegant models wore bomber jackets whose fronts were reminiscent of a Chanel jacket, skirt suits or quilted coats, and embroidered parkas elevated to the status of an evening coat. Knit was omnipresent in both sporty and sophisticated styles with jacquard print sweaters paired with tweed skirts, oversized off-the-shoulder sweaters, elegant two-toned A-line dresses and long evening gowns.
Very striking, more androgynous silhouettes passed by in short box coats that revealed white shirts and plastrons, as well as long grosgrain-belted aprons tied nonchalantly around the waist. These simultaneously seductive yet casual aprons were paired with jeans, slim-cut leather pants or tweed dresses in the style of a neo three-piece suit. For evening, the looks were elegant and vibrant, including little black chiffon dresses, a trompe-l’œil two-piece suit with a bow tie and brilliant details inspired by folded brasserie napkins, transparent and layered effects, lace skirts and dresses, and spectacular skirts painted with feathers paired with woolen cardigans that revealed maxi sleeves also with feathers.
Françoise Claire Prodhon
Photo by Olivier Saillant
January 29th, 2015Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
Both romantic and modern, Karl Lagerfeld designed an exquisite wedding dress to close the Chanel Spring-Summer 2015 Haute Couture collection. This fairy tale dress inspired by flora, was created in the Lemarié ateliers. A dozen people over a month assembled more than 3,000 components.
The gown's entirely sequin-embroidered short-sleeved top, flared over a long train which was like a bed of flowers. Barely colored by occasional pops of delicate pink, this subtle collage of pristine petals revealed a composition that blended chiffon, organza, white iridescent plastic curls, rhinestones and pearls. In lieu of the traditional white veil, Karl Lagerfeld used a wide-brimmed hat topped with a cloud-like tulle.
Photo by Olivier Saillant
January 28th, 2015Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
Chanel presented the Spring-Summer 2015 Haute Couture Show within a circular botanical glasshouse erected underneath the dome of the Grand Palais. At the show's opening, a tropical garden blooming with paper flowers revealed the magic of lush, multi-colored vegetation.
It is a collection that Karl Lagerfeld designed using a sumptuous palette of fresh, vibrant colors that were loosely inspired by an extraordinary and generous garden. The first suits to walk set the tone: bright orange, electric blue, pollen yellow and hot pink underscored the modern style of the collection's silhouettes, which were accessorized with sock-like black leather boots and oversized wide-brimmed hats with straw concealed by a veil of black tulle. Cropped tweed jackets with long or three-quarter sleeves were married with low-cut skirts revealing the models' midriff. These skirts, either short and flared, slender and straight, or flowing and twirling, were embellished with skinny belts whose unusual length accompanied the garments' movement for the ultimate finishing touch. Black and white, Chanel's iconic colors, surfaced in the form of graphic, sleek suits. Lively and airy, silk chiffon was used to create a subtle play of layering and transparency, which was masterfully showcased by large belted coats worn over tone-on-tone sets and dresses in black, pink and bright red. Embroideries, origami folds, braided and fringed chiffon, pearls, sequins, material effects and delicate motifs conveyed the full extent of the ateliers' expertise. The countless floral motifs that emphasized the collections' theme enchanted the evening with their magnificence.
Bouquets of organza, leather, tulle, rhodoid and pearls bloomed from skirts, jackets and sleeves while also gracing chiffon mittens, and elegant knit hats were dotted with an array of precious flowers. Poetic and modern, the Chanel flower women incarnated a larger-than-life garden in which Haute Couture rhymed with perfection.
December 9th, 2014Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
Chanel presented the 2015 Métiers d’Art Paris‑Salzburg collection in a glorious Rococo setting at the Leopoldskron castle. The show drew inspiration from Austrian history, that of Empress Elisabeth "Sissi," who was admired in her time for her elegance and beauty, as well as traditional attire such as the lederhosen and dirndl which Karl Lagerfeld infused with modern luxury by using an elegant yet sporty color palette. The signature piece of the collection is the four-pocketed jacket inspired by the garments that Gabrielle Chanel would have seen elevator operators wear at the Mittersill hotel during her stays in Austria. This further inspired the collection's silhouettes of boxy jackets paired with wide-cut trousers featuring contrasting tuxedo stripes, calling to mind a structured, uniform-like look.
Flared jackets, capes and maxi-length coats reveal a pleat at the back that echo the traditional loden coat while their leather trimmings, gold embroidery, feathers and flower appliqués evoke the Austro-Hungarian period. Knits are punctuated with Alpine flora while Austria's famous lederhosen are paired with leather breeches and also reimagined as handbags. A rich palette presented the iconic colors of white, red, navy and black enhanced with hues like forest green, khaki green, dove gray and brown. Sophisticated yet sporty, the collection was intentionally contemporary. Karl Lagerfeld explores Austrian style, showcasing its refinement through the savoir-faire of the Chanel ateliers. Embroidery, feathers and pleats are crafted with painstaking delicacy to give this collection a romantic edge. Tweed, leather and cashmere partnered with loden and felt, and these materials blended with satin, faille, taffeta and lace lend the collection a fresh, youthful vibe.
The models walked in moccasins decorated with edelweiss, ankle-strap clogs and thigh-high lace-up boots, while their heads were graced with feather-topped hats and ear muff-like headphones styled to look like coiled Heidi braids. The collection's jewelry creations celebrate all things Alpine with cable car, cuckoo clock and edelweiss motifs. Black and white silhouettes often adorned with flower embroideries dominate the collection's evening looks. Bodices, ruffs and pleats soften structured dresses, which are finished off with patent leather boots for an edgy style.
Françoise Claire Prodhon
Photo by Benoit Peverelli
December 3rd, 2014Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
The story of the Chanel jacket all began with the invention of the suit in the early 1950s. This modern, comfortable garment, combining masculine and feminine elements, was Gabrielle Chanel's answer to the style of the 1950s, which she considered too constraining and not adapted to women's lives.
"A Chanel suit is made for a woman who moves," said Gabrielle Chanel, adding: "I really care about women, and I wanted to dress them in clothes that make them feel at ease, clothes they can wear to drive a car, but that still emphasize femininity". It was immediately successful, and the suit along with its jacket became essential items in women's wardrobes, the synonym of freedom and casual elegance.
The jacket, worn with a wrap-around skirt, is unique, taking inspiration from traditional Austrian men's jackets. This jacket in tweed, one of Mademoiselle Chanel's signature fabrics, was designed like a second skin: straight, structured, with an edge-to-edge closure and no shoulder pads or stiff interfacing.
To reconcile flexibility and support, the jacket front is cut on the grain, without darts at the bust. The back is cut the same way, simply separated by a center seam. Vertical side panels join the front and back. The sleeve, cut on the grain, meets the bodice at the top of the shoulder. It is slightly angled with darts at the elbow to follow the shape of the arm for ease of movement and comfort. To ensure this perfect freedom of movement, Mademoiselle Chanel would take her customers' measurements with their arms crossed and hands resting on their shoulders. The silk lining of the jacket is cut with the same criteria ensuring comfort. A delicate chain sewn into the lower part of the jacket ensures that it falls impeccably. The graphic aspect is emphasized by the braid (grosgrain braid, knitted, etc.) that outlines the contours of the jacket, the pocket edges, and the cuffs. The pockets are placed to make it easy to slip the hands in. The jacket is done up with jewel-like buttons stamped with the lion's head motif (Mademoiselle Chanel's astrological sign was Leo), sheaves of wheat, camellia, or the double C logo.
Reinvented every season, the jacket has become one of the iconic elements of the Chanel style. "Actually, the Chanel jacket is inspired by the traditional Austrian men's jacket. Coco Chanel invented a type of garment that did not exist in this exact form, and this is an achievement that no one can take away from her. It is one of the symbols that defines the Chanel style." As Karl Lagerfeld has said, "In the world of fashion, some things never go out of fashion: jeans, a white shirt and a Chanel jacket".
Françoise Claire Prodhon
Photo by Benoit Peverelli
December 1st, 2014Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
Austria captivated Gabrielle Chanel with its charm, atmosphere and mountainous landscape. She loved nature, sport and outdoor activities as much as cultural events and high society: Austria offered it all. In a letter to Jean Cocteau on July 16, 1922 she wrote: "Tzara is in Tirol - seems to be feeling better and happy - perhaps I will go there too". Like many artists at that time, Tristan Tzara was there with Max Ernst and Paul Eluard, other members of the Dada movement.
Since the mid-nineteenth century, Salzburg and the Austrian Tirol had become highly desirable destinations. This popularity was confirmed in 1920, when director Max Reinhardt, composer Richard Strauss and author Hugo von Hofmannsthal created the Salzburg Festival, an annual summer operatic festival attracting a cultured and elegant audience.
In the early 1930s, Gabrielle Chanel loved to visit the famous ski station of Saint‑Moritz, and it was here that she met Baron Hubert von Pantz, a dashing Austrian aristocrat. Elegant and courtly, he had all the traits to charm Gabrielle Chanel, with whom he had a two-year affair. In these early years of the 1930s, he bought Schloss Mittersill, a castle he transformed into a prestigious luxury hotel.
Schloss Mittersill was an instant success and in 1936, the American edition of Vogue magazine referred to it as: "the most talked-of place in Austria". With his high standards and exquisite manners, Hubert von Pantz attracted high ranking guests from the elite, including the Duc de Gramont and the Marquise de Polignac; but also artists such as Marlene Dietrich, Douglas Fairbanks and Cole Porter, all drawn in by the hotel's refined atmosphere as well as its traditional character. It offered many activities, ranging from golf to hikes on the glaciers, as well as shopping, an opportunity for this swanky clientèle to buy traditional Loden garments. It was at Mittersill that Gabrielle Chanel noticed the impeccable jackets worn by the hotel's elevator operators… A garment that she would remember in the early 1950s, when she created the iconic jacket of the Chanel suit, worn in 1961 by her friend, Austrian-born actress Romy Schneider...
The actress Romy Schneider during a fitting with Gabrielle Chanel in 1961
Photo Giancarlo Botti ©BOTTI/STILLS/GAMMA
October 2nd, 2014Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
The Spring-Summer 2015 Ready-to-Wear show transported us to a typical Parisian boulevard miraculously erected under the glass dome of the Grand Palais, where 80 models casually strolled past the "boulevard Chanel's" facades while donning the collection's myriad looks.
The collection is decidedly optimistic and rich with a variety of propositions that Karl Lagerfeld used to set the tone right from the start: these Chanel women are free-spirited and daring; they progress far beyond mere social norms; they are independent, modern and active, in the very image of Gabrielle Chanel. Firmly rooted in their day and age, they walk the streets of major cities with long, confident strides.
With their tweed pantsuits accessorised by vibrant silk neckties, these professional women are a perfect blend of masculine and feminine. Their elegant, comfortable style is inspired by menswear with double-breasted blazers and boxy jackets, cuffed wide-leg trousers and flat boots. The base remained feminine however, through a palette of vibrant colors (orange, pink, purple, blue, green) and flamboyant prints (florals, watercolor prints) interpreted on blouses, neckties and scarves, as well as boots and loafers. The skirt suit was paired with printed fabric boots; soft, flowing blouses were punctuated with a pointed, elongated collar, and a tennis stripe adorned generous cuffed bermuda shorts to give them an urban flair. Open derby shoes closed by an ankle strap appeared in gold and black leather, black and white leather, as well as black satin versions. Chanel's iconic colors of black, white and navy served as the foundation of this easy-to-wear wardrobe.
From long tweed coats lined with printed silk to military-inspired khaki suede jumpsuits, a sailor stripe knit that is as fresh a look in the city as it is at the beach, gauzy blouses, lace and dresses embroidered with small scale-like tiles interspersed with tiny flowers, summer of 2015 will focus on the winds of freedom that blew during the years 1968-1970. The whole collection is a play on proportions, layering and transparency. Immaculate white blouses with wide collars are cinched with a gold belt to give the bermuda short a feminine touch.
The collection's accessories added a whimsical, humorous twist to its message of freedom: clutches were stamped with messages like "Féministe mais Féminine" and "Make Fashion not War.” A new bag incorporating all of the codes of the Chanel jacket (tweed, braid, buttons) made its debut with soft leather handles that allow it to be worn over the shoulder or tied around the waist.
Photo by Olivier Saillant
August 18th, 2014Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
1913: The Normandy coast with its expansive gray-blue skies and beaches still resembled the representations depicted by Eugène Boudin and the Impressionists at the turn of the 19th century... There was no swimming, or very little at most... Visitors splashed about or baited for shrimp, and the more elegant among them were seated under their parasols or withdrew into their canvas sun tents, wearing the same restrictive outfits on the sand as they wore in town. All of them were still unaware that a revolution was underway...
1913 was the year when Coco Chanel chose to open her first fashion boutique on rue Gontaut-Biron in Deauville.
This young woman, who successfully opened her first hat store in 1910 called "Chanel Modes" located at 21 rue Cambon in Paris, had established a formidable reputation and had already won over the most elite socialites of the time. However, it was in Deauville where she was the first to invent a sporty sense of style that reflected a changing society, a style that would forever alter the course of women's history.
Here at this chic resort destination she sold her wide-brimmed hats that were simply decorated with a single feather or ribbon. Yet most importantly, she offered wealthy clients open-air apparel that she displayed along Deauville’s famous boardwalk. The selection notably included the fisherman-inspired striped jersey sweater: yet again, she was able to reinvent a masculine garment and transform a classic work wear item into something comfortable for women who were ever so ready to be liberated from the heavy, corseted silhouette imposed by the “Belle Epoque”. Other outfits followed that embodied casual chic and successfully put everything else out of fashion: striped shirts, sailor pants, and beach pajamas that she accessorized with pearls and camellias loosely stitched to the belt or collar lapel. In Deauville, Gabrielle's boldness paired with the elegance of Adrienne (her young aunt) and her sister Antoinette (both dressed by Chanel) was as surprising as it was seductive. Gabrielle Chanel breathed new life and fresh air into fashion, fully embracing the spirit of the times, which the Avant-gardists were also doing at the same time in other creative fields such as painting, sculpture, literature, poetry, and music.
Françoise Claire Prodhon
Photo © All Rights Reserved
August 6th, 2014Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
The relationship between Gabrielle Chanel and the Basque coast dates back to 1915. It was Arthur “Boy” Capel who introduced her to Biarritz while on leave from his military duties. The war that raged on relentlessly seemed far off while at this famous seaside resort: many wealthy women had fled Paris to seek refuge there and spent quiet, peaceful days at the seaside. Gabrielle Chanel was captivated by the smart and stylish atmosphere of Biarritz. It was here that she decided to open her first couture house in 1915 in a villa facing the casino.
She experienced instant success: neighboring Spain was neutral during the war, and orders poured in from Spanish royalty and very wealthy clients, as well as from French clients who were won over by the innovative luxury of Chanel. Biarritz had also served as a resort destination for Russian aristocrats since the 19th century, who purchased and built numerous villas there. After the fall of the czar, many of them sought refuge in Biarritz. It was here in 1920 that Gabrielle Chanel met Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovitch, cousin of the czar, with whom she had an affair until 1922. She spent much time with him at various villas along the Basque coast. In 1920, Gabrielle Chanel became the symbol of elegance, introducing the world to a modern sense of style that she embodied ever so perfectly. It was reflected in her streamlined silhouettes, ankles revealed by shortened skirts and dresses, simple garments with clean lines, and soft materials such as jersey knit, fabrics so comfortable that she made swimsuits from them, in addition to the jacket and skirt suits that she was the first to wear.
While enjoying freedom, an outdoor lifestyle and the modern winds that were blowing around her, Gabrielle Chanel cut her hair short and exposed herself to the sun. Women quickly followed suit, mimicking the look that would foreshadow the profound changes yet to come of a society heading full steam into the 20th century.
Françoise Claire Prodhon
Photo © CHANEL - Collection Bernstein-Grüber
June 12th, 2014Par Françoise-Claire Prodhon
The Paris-Dallas 2013/14 collection conjures all the fantasy and romance of the Wild Frontier. From the pioneer days of pre-Civil War Texas, to the refinement of early 19th century Americana, Karl Lagerfeld refused to let this whimsical and distinctly contemporary collection linger in the past.
The Wild West is won in sophisticated details that showcase expert craftsmanship and impeccable taste: embroidery, feathers, fringe, pleats and frills lend a soft, feminine twist to this home-on-the-range style. Suits take on a whole new twist: a loose-fitting jacket with fringe embellished with stars and a mid-calf cowgirl skirt to be worn over boots. The urban yet unrestricted silhouette is topped with thick woolen ponchos and capes, winter coats fastened at the waist and worn over jackets, a leather topstitched cowboy shirt worn with pants and a leather coat with fringe detail. Elegant eveningwear features star-spangled gowns of velvet and tulle, satin blouses with fringe and flared sleeves, and pleated skirts with lace, feather and tulle flounces paired with delicately embroidered tops. The signature Chanel palette of white, beige, red, navy and black is enhanced here with browns, grays, taupe, and pink accents.
The little black jacket fearlessly features Wild West shoulder pads. Tweed, leather, knit, denim, cashmere and muslin are speckled with Native American geometric symbols and stars –a favorite Chanel motif, and a nod here to the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Accessories are also given a romantic western treatment: bags and gloves with fringe detail, branded purses, Civil-War-era-inspired Stetson hats, pantyhose branded with a trompe l’œil cowboy boot print, and mid-calf and knee-high boots set to take on open prairies and city streets.
The Paris-Dallas Métiers d’Art 2013/14 collection is now available in boutiques.
Photo by Benoit Peverelli