In classic Lagerfeld style, Chanel Pre-Fall AW19 took place against the breathtaking backdrop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur. And this time, the collection was as enchanting as its surroundings.
Previous fashion weeks have seen Chanel transform the Grand Palais into an authentic leaf-strewn forest, a beach complete with a sand runway, and a towering, flowing waterfall. Yet for some, the accompanying lines (such as the dull, grey suits of the AW18 collection) have fallen decidedly flat in recent years. Was Lagerfeld falling behind in the wake of fresh new designers like Virgil Abloh and Simon Porte Jacquemus?
If his most recent collection is anything to go by, I would argue not. The line draws inspiration from Ancient Greece, yet manages to retain a distinctly modern feel through the use of sparkling metallics and edgy black leather – a far cry from Chanel’s usual conservative tweed. Whilst the theme brought a sense of mysticism to the show, Lagerfeld’s philosophy was abundantly clear: this season, more is more.
The show began in a relatively understated manner. Models took to the runway in outfits that brought a festive feel with their glittering fabrics, yet retained the essence of Chanel, combining smart jacket and skirt combinations with heavy, statement jewelry. As the presentation went on, however, the line unveiled pieces that rendered the label’s image practically unrecognisable; gold mini-dresses dripping with coloured jewels followed black leather trench coats, paired with knee-high metallic boots. Embellishment was key, with black, gold and blue sequins adorning structured collars and shoulders.
Whilst Chanel might not usually seem like the first port of call for glamorous evening-wear, this collection might just be the perfect inspiration for a festive Christmas-party outfit. Lagerfeld’s line is comfortingly wearable in comparison to those presented by houses such as Versace, whose hectic mix of prints seems intimidating and unworkable off the runway. Valentino points us towards red, ruffles, and seemingly nothing else – Christmassy, for sure, yet not especially varied or exciting.
So what can we take away from Lagerfeld’s latest offering? For those tired of the conventional girly mini-dress, opt for a more androgynous trouser suit, complete with an oversized jacket and bold, printed shirt. The classic long evening dress is given a glitzy update, encouraging flowing, sheer fabrics to be layered with beautiful embellished mini-skirts and bandeaus. Practicality need not be sacrificed in favour of style; think bright, graphic knitwear (to be paired with dazzling metallic trousers if you’re feeling really adventurous). And for accessories? The line sees cuffs and collars take centre stage; forget delicate, barely-there necklaces – this season is all about statement gold pieces encrusted with as many jewels and beads as possible.
With the recent announcement as that of May 2019, Chanel will no longer use exotic skins and fur in its future collections; could Lagerfeld be heading towards a more modern, less traditional brand image for Chanel? The world of fashion is certainly undergoing a critical period of change, seeing younger generations call for a more up-to-date and sustainable industry, and it is undoubtedly the responsibility of designers to meet this demand or else risk losing credibility. Whilst the collection divided opinion amongst critics, with some branding it OTT and simplistic, it no doubt marks an attempt by Lagerfeld to keep Chanel relevant in such a swiftly modernising industry – and this can surely be no bad thing.
It might displease hardened traditionalists, but I for one am excited to see what the future holds for Chanel.