Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fifty Years Later: Chanel Couture Spring 09

From Women's Wear Daily January 27, 2009

“The idea was a white page,” Lagerfeld said days before his show. But there are white pages and white pages. For his, Lagerfeld commissioned a floral paradise crafted from 4,000 meters of plain, pristine paper. He “wanted everything graphic itself, no bling-bling,” to realize the idea, which came to him just after his over-the-top Russian-inspired satellite show in December: “Everything was so pushed — housecleaning was needed.”

Hence the move from the Grand Palais — “I’m glad it was empty,” Lagerfeld quipped of the landmark, now housing the show of another fellow, Picasso — to a former bank just up the street on the Rue Cambon. Along with it, he shifted his set approach from the single-prop, megainstallations of swirling tower, giant carousel and re-created city street to a glorious paper heaven (grand stairway and 32 columns covered in pristine bowers; paper flower centerpieces and lace cloths dressing cafe tables) that looked like the best work of the cleverest wedding planner in town, or a walk-in version of David Pelham’s ingenious pop-up book “Trail.” (Rather than the book, Lagerfeld’s own 18th-century porcelains, as well as the modern interiors of Marcel Wanders and others, served as primary inspirations.) The set, done under the direction of Stéphane Lubrina, boasted 6,700 assorted-species blossoms and took 40 people 15 weeks to create. (The paper was glass, rather than wood-based, all ye who might get your scratchy organic panties in a twist.) “Mr. Wertheimer said something very nice,” Lagerfeld relayed in reference to his own spending proclivities. “He said, maybe a shortage somewhere, but not in your department.”

Certainly, here was no shortage of pure delight, a collection inventively conceived and impeccably executed, from the wondrous paper headpieces crafted by Japanese hair genius Katsuya Kamo to several chic takes on spectator sandals. And the real stars of the day: the clothes. Lagerfeld sent out fab day clothes working a supernarrow focus — tiered structure in various shades of white. Anchoring the look: a square shoulder, often in a short, straight capelet, as if sliced from an 8-1/2-by-11 page. These perched atop little jackets and crisp A-shaped skirts, interspersed with softer moments now and then, and with an occasional flash of crisp black trim. Similarly, save for a brief digression to black and prints, high evening continued along the great white way, with stark lines contrasting more ethereal options.

In lesser hands, it might have been a snooze. Lagerfeld, however, worked each look to distinction. A plain suit featured a swish of chiffon at the wrists; a dress’ curious lace motif was fashioned from feathers. As for Lagerfeld’s no-bling assertion — not really. In this lineup, tight rows of bugle beads formed shimmery stripes, paillettes masqueraded as polkadots and the bride wore an austere sequined Sixties Space Age jumpsuit outfit, her endless frothy train decorated with, among other elements, paper embroideries, done by none other than M. Lesage.

Still, the mood chez Chanel is that the paper trail won’t end in his nimble hands. Recession or no, the belief is that more than a few clients remain plenty flush with cash. Or they can break out the kind of plastic that’s good for the fashion environment.

See Chanel Runway Slideshow

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