The Atmosphere: Without a doubt, Cambon Club is the chicest new hotspot in Paris. Well, it was for brief time on Tuesday morning, at least. Karl Lagerfeld constructed the faux futuristic lounge inside the Grand Palais to showcase his athletic-inspired couture collection. A majestic mirrored rotunda? Check. Two grand staircases? Check. Luxurious gray satin sofas and a live orchestra? Check and check. One could imagine a youthful and lively (not to mention connected) crowd mingling amongst the décor, which is fitting as this was most certainly a very whimsical, energetic outing from the house.
Among the front row at the intimate gathering, sitting on the satin sofas, were Tilda Swinton — wearing a Chanel pre-fall sweater and fringed skirt — and Lily Allen, in a multicolored tweed coat and leather pants. Missing from the mix was new face of Chanel Kristen Stewart, who was previously in Utah at Sundance promoting her new film.
The Clothes: Lagerfeld focused his efforts around the waist, bringing back the hourglass silhouette by putting tight corsets front and center. These were often topped with cropped jackets adorned with crystal buttons, and paired with either straight or flared knee-length skirts in light purple, pink or striped tweeds.
A long beaded evening sheath dress seemed to float down the runway, appearing weightless. A sparkling plume bolero and skirt highlighted the meticulous skills of Lemarié, an atelier under the Chanel umbrella that specializes in feathers. A classic skirt suit was made current in sheer tulle.
The models lightly sprinted up and down the curvy staircases — one wearing an embroidered floral petal skirt that swayed with her every move, another a tulle long-sleeve dress. But no matter, looks were often styled with elbow and knee pads in case of an accidental fall.
But the most important message here were the sneakers worn with every single outfit. These clothes took on a certain street credibility when paired with the pink, white or black trainers, which were handmade by Massaro, another atelier owned by Chanel. Each pair — whether python or tweed or bejeweled, all veiled in lace — took a minimum of 30 hours of to make. They will reportedly cost more than 3,000 euros and are sure to become a fetish object amongst design aficionados.
The Takeaway: Couture’s currency depends on its adaptability, especially to the fast-changing global tastes that arise from greater access to fashion information. For Chanel, each collection is a process of continued renewal and rejuvenation, without compromising craftsmanship. It’s easy to dismiss the whole notion as old fashioned, but Lagerfeld proved today that couture might be one of the last underground clubs still standing.
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Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.