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A Metropolis for Chanel Women

by Anna Battista

At times fashion collections display strong connections with the costumes of specific films. In other cases, designers may drop titles of films, mentioning them as inspirations, though their collections may in the end show remote links with particular costumes and stronger references to the moods and atmosphere of the movie in question. This second option was the case when it came to Karl Lagerfeld’s Haute Couture Chanel collection.

The designer stated he recently acquired photographs from the set of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (though you wonder if he also saw the exhibition that took place in 1985 at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo curated by Robert Delpire and organised with the help of the Centre National de la Photographie that included some extraordinary images taken on the Metropolis set) and there were definitely references to the iconic sci-fi movie in the sets recreated inside the Grand Palais, with the façade of the Place Vendôme buildings traced in neon lights and a robotic Coco Chanel replacing Napoleon on the top of the obelisk.

The designs included in the collection didn’t display any direct sci-fi references, though, but they verged more towards dark and noir atmospheres with models walking under street lamps in classic tweed suits with peplum-cum-narrow-skirts (it would have been interesting to see how the looks worked without the jackets) in somber shades of black, grey and charcoal – broken at times by splashes of fuchsia – matched with feathery boaters.

The lampshade silhouettes verged more towards Paul Poiret, the enemy and rival, than towards Chanel and the embellishments, in particular the jewel buttons scattered on the tweed jackets, were definitely more Karl than Coco.

The best effects were achieved on the tweed suits decorated with sequins that, from a distance, looked like graphic brush strokes or feathers. Evening looks seemed to show a stronger Art Deco derivation with fan-shaped sequins that called to mind Maria the Robot’s headdress in Metropolis and tiny pearls forming delicate wave-like motifs.

The evening dresses were also used to create a sort of progression from the opening boyish looks to more feminine designs that included feathers and ruffles or cascades of sequins and beads, embodying the title of the collection, “Les Allures de Chanel”.

There was a final reference to sci-fi atmospheres in the blueish lights hidden away in the plateau of the shoes, maybe to symbolise Lagerfeld’s attempt at lightning up the dark and unsafe path of Haute Couture in unstable markets.

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