Spring 2012 Haute Couture: Chanel flies high

There was a frisson of excitement as guests arrived that the Grand Palais for what was one of the hottest and most difficult to come by tickets in town: the Chanel Haute Couture presentation. The invitation centred around the design of a plane window looking out over clouds, had hinted to the theme of the show, but no one was really prepared for the surprise that awaited them at the Grand Palais. Chanel transformed the space into the cabin a luxury jet, complete with numbered seats, emergency exist with floor level lighting, and blue carpeting patterned with Chanel’s iconic double-C logo. As guests mingled, awaiting the start of the presentation, crew served champagne from airline trolleys carts. Air Chanel even came with a slatted roof to reveal the "faux-sky" that would keep on changing colour throughout the show, as Chanel took its guests into outer space before gently bringing them back to earth.

The show opened with a model strutting out of the cockpit into the airplane’s aisle in a cropped blue number, hands tucked into low pockets built into a drop waistband , which set the laidback tone of the entire collection. Though the collection had a 1960s-aircrew uniform influence, Lagerfeld said backstage “I didn't want to make it too literal… If you look at what air hostesses really wore back in the '60s, it wasn't that great!"

In tune with the setting and influence, the 61-look collection was a rhapsody of blues, 154 shades from sapphire and lavender to cobalt, lapis lazuli and midnight blue.  “It’s my blue period,” joked Lagerfeld.

Short sleeved, slim tweed dresses just above the knee were reminiscent of previous Chanel collections, yet there were also innovations in the silhouette with exaggerated boat neck collars, large puff sleeves, long skirts and thigh-level dropped waists, which conveyed an androgynous look that Coco Chanel would have loved. Rouche detailing and stockings embroidered with tiny crystals gave classic Chanel a modern twist, punk hairstyle accentuated by sumptuous head jewellery adding edginess to an otherwise classic collection.

Lagerfeld’s elegant collection was filled with tailored clothes and a strong focus on highly desirable slick cocktail and evening dresses. Guests lapped it up. After the presentation Diane Kruger said she loved the nonchalance of the couture dresses, while Cameroon Diaz commented this was the “chicest flight” she had ever been on. “The colour palette is stunning. Very good for blonds,” she enthused.

As Published in Couture by Designaré – Vol 2 (April 2012)