Technicolor Daydream

January 28, 2015

"Alice in Wonderland. Utopia/dystopia. Edwardian. Urban tribe."

These were some of the notes I took while watching the Chanel Spring 2015 Haute Couture show (from my computer, of course, not from the front row—one day...). What a jumbled pile of notes and thoughts I had while I watched bare-midriff models traipse down the runway in the finest clothes in the world. For any other designer, the conglomeration of words and inspirations would feel like a jumbled mess with no real coherence, but this is Karl Lagerfeld we're talking about. Somehow, he always has a way of making seemingly unrelated and often dichotomous concepts come together in splendid form.  

At the Grand Palais (per usual) the runway was decorated with hundreds of fake, mechanical flowers, like a vibrant dreamlike scene from a Disneyland attraction. The clothes were just as resplendent, full of metallic blooms and blossoming details as well as the design staples we have come to expect from Chanel. 

There was emphasis placed on both past inspiration (Edwardian hats, evening gloves—perhaps Amal Alamuddin is to blame?—and 90's-style midriffs) and the dream of the future (electric colors, artificial flowers, inventive silhouettes), as well as some fabulous fantasy world that is all Lagerfeld's own. 

In particular I found myself thinking of the new Peter Pan film and the character design of Princess Tiger Lily (controversially portrayed by Rooney Mara, but that's a whole other issue...) with the darkened makeup across the eyes and the colorful, exaggerated shoulders. The clothes are gorgeous and fantastical but also decidedly utilitarian, which I've come to expect from Chanel—the clothes will always be extravagant and decadent, but never will I look at a piece and ask myself, "Who would possibly wear that?" 

And with the connotations of Tiger Lily and fairy princesses and far-off destinations, I came to the conclusion that the cult of Chanel is very much a tribe in and of itself, a collection of impossibly chic women who adore clothing and who dress in a very particular way, the Chanel way, if you will. They mix the urban and the traditional, they show their belly buttons off with tweed pencil skirts, they love florals but aren't afraid of an all-black ensemble either. One might say that the Chanel girl is a contradiction, but I believe that it is the contradictory nature of her style, the way she always keeps you guessing, that makes her so fascinating.

One doesn't look at a collection like this spring's and say that only one girl could wear all these different looks. Each look is a variation on a theme, made for different styles and different women, but all of them do fit into the Chanel brand, there's no denying this. Both Kendall Jenner and Ines de la Fressange (both Chanel muses) can pull looks from this collection that fit their personalities and their personal styles, but it won't be the same one. Or maybe it will be! That is the beauty of Chanel. 

The most captivating looks of the collection were, for me at least, the three pictured above. Models Alexandra Elizabeth and Lindsey Wixson donned high fashion capes with their ensembles, looking very much like fairy princess superheroes, with their capes and latticed eye masks. If only The Avengers donned costumes like these, perhaps I'd be a little more interested.

And of course, there is the lovely hooded piece that Soo Joo Park wore on the runway, a brilliant feathered shrug that echoed the overall runway set. Between these three looks, I fell in love with the collection in a way that I rarely feel when it comes to fashion shows anymore. So often it comes to be about the consumer, about providing reliable products that are sure to sell, that true art in fashion is often set aside for profit. For this reason I am so thankful that couture week continues to exist, as it allows designers to explore their deepest creative desires without so much of the financial pressure. That isn't to say that this collection isn't a success; quite the contrary, I think both critically and economically this Chanel show stands out as a true win, but there is a beautiful sense of spirit in this collection that sometimes feel to be subdued during regular seasonal presentations.

In the end, what Chanel achieves is a little glimmer of true fashion magic—a challenging feat for today's consumerist-driven society—and once again I am delighted to be given just a glimpse of Karl Lagerfeld's gorgeous fantasy world.

(all images from, edited by me)

1 comment

I love hearing your thoughts! Thanks for reading! ♥︎Lindsey