Largerfeld’s vision dazzled one and all this season at Chanel with a bold and deeply haunted collection of timeless style and innovative embellishment, uniting the delicate with the deadly. Converting the Grand Palais into a dense and dark garden, the visions waltzing between the hanging weeds were sensational. Beautifully dressed evil fairies, complete with smudged make-up and messy hair, torn veils and grubby faces. Compared to a gothic rendition of the fairy realm in ‘A Midsummer’s Nights Dream’, Chanel couture has never been more bold or beautiful than this.
A splendid adaptation of the classic Chanel tweed suit took to the main stage, with appropriate distortions to suit the new haunted season of spring. In classic shades of black, white, grey, skirts varied in length and the shoulders were restrained with a miniature cloak, finished with torn and distressed ruffles, ripped by the thorns from the surrounding forest. The suits were worn with flat peep-toes boots that reached all the way up to thigh, in pale shades of violet, white and grey lace and veiled snakeskin. Others work a futuristic silver leather pair of booths with matching gloves, creating a sharp contrast between the romance of the entire ensemble. Some of the suit jackets were cut lower than usual on the neck, to make way for a white lace shirt and finished with a bow tie, fantastic as a finishing touch.
Feathers and leather came hand in hand in a later series of evening gowns, fit for Shakespeare’s Tatiana or the Swan Queen. With feathers trimming the neckline, sleeves and tumbling down the skirts and gathering at the hem, the dresses were delicate and romantic in their nature, in soft shades of pink, duck-egg blue and white; refined and sweet like the characters who’d wear them. The Gothic crept in however in leather leggings and and arm-length gloves, teamed with torn strips of lace and silk, wrapped into the messy layers of hair that remained piled onto the model’s head; as if the bride had braved the storm from the evening before.
Since variety is the spice of life, Largerfeld ensured that variation was a pivotal point in this collection. The renditions of evening dresses were simply stunning as they morphed the source of inspiration from tales of Ms Haversham, to a colourful number that Lolita might wear. Longer dresses were layered clashing patterns and prints of tropical flowers from a fantasy work, on a blank canvas of white silk, worn over a full length skirt of black sequins and white shoes. In contrast, layeres of tulle were sewn into billowing ruffles, studded with crystals and worn with a shimmering black sequinned jacket and embroidered birds of paradise. A dramatic element often found in fashion is within texture and explosive colours but this was far more classically Gothic and elegant, rather than aggressive on the senses. Each outfit stood out with its own merit of craftsmanship, no less desirable than the last.
Closing the show were three ensembles that ring true to the extravagance of Chanel. Cara Delevingne and twin brides in a magnificent ruched lace wedding dress with beaded silk outer-skirts walked hand in hand with a child in a crisp white suit; a mocking response to the current gay marriage controversy brewing in France. Political stance aside, the fantasy and fairy-take created by Largerfled this season is certainly one that leads hot anicipation for the ready-to-wear collections, even more so for the high-street influence. Oxymorons are always well received in fashion and the poetic themes in this collection easily make it a highlight of couture week, in all it’s dazzling, haunting splendour.