Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–As she emerged from under the black glass backdrop wearing a white tweed wool flare jacket with a spider web of black jet beads dripping down the front and back, Stella Tennant’s incredibly light footsteps and easy composure ushered in a new chapter in the storied history of Chanel Haute Couture. Karl Lagerfeld seems to be saying that couture should be as easy and effortless as wearing jeans.
The starting point of this soft and airy collection was the rejected portrait of Mademoiselle Chanel. It was drawn by the artist Marie Laurencin in 1923 while the designer was working on costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes Le Train Bleu. In that portrait, Chanel wore a soft, one-shoulder dress—but she refused to purchase the painting. In Mr. Lagerfeld’s hands, history is just a momentary reference, an embrace and appreciation of the culture of a different time and place. The spring couture show moved beyond the incredible Spring 2011 ready-to-wear collection, staged in the transformed Grand Palais, into an Alain Resnais 1961 movie set.
A light pastel pink knee length dress with black beads and tiny bronze sequins, a light grey trompe l’oeil interwoven wool coat-suit with silver sequin trim, and a pink turtleneck collar skirt suit with stretch orange jeans underneath were the foundation of the daywear. The classic Chanel suits and dresses revolved around the various permutations of the slim jeans–in black sequins; in orange; in faded ice blue; in pale pink. An outstanding look was the short sleeve open mock neck jacket with metallic silver trim, worn with a floral embroidered chiffon overlay skirt and light orange jeans, mixing the atelier workmanship with simplicity of the linear jeans and black leather flats.
Chanel is clearly focusing its energy in cultivating a new generation of client–working women, actresses, and musicians that include Diane Kruger, Janelle Monae, and Kirsten Dunst (who all attended the show). Witness the actress-singer Vanessa Paradis in a black silk satin jacket paired with faded blue jeans. What’s unique about Chanel couture is that it is the only Parisian fashion house that actually sells couture to clients on a significant level. Why? Because they present new, but not unfamiliar, ideas every season.
**Photos by Imaxtree.