Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Chanel Couture: The Lioness in Winter

By Godfrey Deeny

Paris – A giant golden lion, his burly head standing 45-feet above the audience in Paris' Grand Palais stood sentry over the latest thoroughly chic floral fantasy couture collection from Chanel, staged with customary aplomb in Paris Tuesday, July 6. And while the lion was mammoth, the collection's silhouette was lean and, especially for couture, short, with skirts trimmed four-inches above the knee.

The lion's huge paw perched on a seven-foot cream pearl, out of which strutted three score of ravishing looking models in this show - inspired by tapestries and the colors of strident Fauvist artists - for the house, whose founder, Coco Chanel, had the astrological sign of Leo.

"I had this image in my head of a proud lion, it was one of Coco's symbols, and I think it worked rather well. Huh?" said Chanel's couturier Karl Lagerfeld, beneath the mighty golden beast.

Out first on the round catwalk was Natasha Poly, who had already posed in the program photos by Lagerfeld left on each guest's seat. The Russian model slinked by in a blood orange bouclé wool suit, the jacket flared, the skirt short, the ensemble paired with sensational crinkled half-calf boots in a leather featuring the same color gold as the lion's.

Opening looks featured lots of bouclé ideas, like double-breasted jackets cut with angle tails, while on the wrists multiple bracelets, bangles, wristbands and chains - again in a faded gold. Giant encrustations on limbs were a powerful reminder of how haute couture can, and will, set trends.

Lagerfeld sent out his quotient of beige - the biggest color so far in this reined-in season - but then suddenly accelerated two gears with a duo of models in sizzling sexy coral mini dresses, trimmed and piped pearls, and worn elongated necklaces and chains.

The couturier then wowed with a whole floral section with tiny alpine flowers made of bugle beads on strict skirts and remarkable faded jacquards used in opulent cocktails. Carnations floated across sumptuous tapestry-style tops in micro sequins, exceptional examples of Chanel's famed atelier at full throttle and a material used in dramatic mini boots.

Medieval yet completely modern, artisanal yet high-tech, racy yet always chic, this was a first rate collection and show from Chanel - a brand that, when it comes to haute couture, is the reigning heavyweight champion for staging, showmanship and cool élan.