Paris Spring 2014: Chanel, Alexander McQueen
The genius of Karl Lagerfeld isn’t just limited to design. His uncanny ability to translate culture and “what’s happening” is what keeps him perpetually at the top of the fashion hierarchy. So this show was, of course, right on point. Within the walls of the Grand Palais, a cohesive mix of looks spanning ages and styles was set against the backdrop of a faux art exhibition. The pieces were comprised of Lagerfeld’s own artwork set to a bigger scale by other artists. Is fashion art? Certainly under Lagerfeld’s direction. It takes an extraordinarily creative mind to recreate a brand built on tweed skirts suits season after season. For Spring, the classic skirt suit was done in off-shoulder iterations, adding a little sex appeal to the ladylike looks. Tweeds came multi-colored, including a pink, peach, white and grey jacket worn with a knee-length skirt that zippered down the side and white Sixties-style mid-calf boots in white with the classic black patent Chanel toe. And the purse to accompany that look? A boxy gridded lucite hot pink clutch with red C’s attached to a gold chain that will certainly be snagged off the shelves ASAP. There were also laid back looks for the younger, more casual clientele like a white cardigan worn with nothing underneath, paired with a baby blue sweater tied around the shoulders, pale pink pants, and a darker pink sweater tied around the waist backwards. Artier types will appreciate wildly colored skirts and tops made from a pattern meant to resemble a compilation of paint swatches. The reaction? “It’s just incredible how he does something for everyone,” said T’s Deborah Needleman post-show. “If Larry Gagosian bought that whole set, the value would sky rocket. As a commentary on conceptual art, it became art itself and it’s kind of hilarious. He’s so clever!” Marie Claire’s Nina Garcia echoed the enthusiasm saying, “Well, Art Basel is around the corner! It was very inspired and colorful.” Is Chanel still the hautest ticket in Paris? (Or for the entire fashion calendar, for that matter?) “I think it still remains the highlight,” said Garcia. “Not only that, everybody really gets dressed up for this show and pulls out their Chanels. It was extraordinary. Karl never disappoints.” Indeed.
Borrowing from a high-tech Maasai warrior, Sarah Burton trotted out an artful collection for Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2014 runway. The warriors of the moment marched out in silver and gold helmets and strappy platforms, their bodies encased in harnesses of leather. While patterns in black, white, and red may have been geometric, the shape of the clothes was rather soft: curved sweetheart necklines accentuated the bust while cascading tiers on a dress softly fanned out into a bell shape. Never one to shy away from an idea that could prove to be daunting for others, Burton successfully attached two plumes of feathers to an already detailed dress rife with a high neckline and cut outs. Feathers also got layered to create skirts appropriate for some serious hip shaking and single plumes dangled from a red and black striped crop top. Tamer outfits arrived in the form of a B&W jacket with three quarter length sleeves, and two white dresses with silver grommets and an exaggerated baby doll silhouette. What was going down on the accessory front? Gold bangles that started from the bicep were trailed down to the wrist, ultra thick chokers in silver and gold, and wide belts. The overall effect? Entrancingly bold.