Chanel AW16: Three Reasons You Should Care

Gigi Hadid chanel aw16

by Rebecca Lowthorpe |
Published on

The biggest story of Paris Fashion Week is always the Chanel show, thanks to the dramatic backdrops (previous seasons have seen Karl Lagerfeld's latest collection played out against a Chanel-branded casino, airport and supermarket) and the brand's quintessentially French style.

This season, though, Karl presented his A/W'16 collection in a more intimate setting, and stayed true to Coco Chanel's original vision for the house. Our fashion director Rebecca Lowthorpe breaks down the key talking points...

1) Karl Lagerfeld has the uncanny ability to take the temperature of the times...

In a way that's like no other designer out there. This week in Paris has been one long hoo-hah with major houses closing their doors, disinviting many journalists by showing in smaller, more exclusive venues. Not Karl. He gave everyone a front row seat. ‘People always complain they can’t see the clothes well enough because we show in such a large place [the Grand Palais] and they say they are too far away. So I wanted to show as Coco Chanel used to show in her salon, this kind of idea, so nobody can complain!’ This was an opportunity, then, to see the Chanel finery as up close and personal as it is possible to get. You could have reached out and touched all those tweed suits – had the models not been walking so fast, that is – and from both directions. The 99 models, which included everyone from Edie Campbell to Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner, walked 750 metres in all – it took seven minutes for one model to complete the show circuit.

chanel aw16
Chanel AW16 ©Rex Features

Rex Features

2) Classic Chanel tropes were in evidence - but they've been updated

Had he been thinking about Mademoiselle Chanel when he designed the collection? This was, after all, ram full of quintessential Chanel tropes: tweed suits, little black dresses, ropes of pearls, little riding hats, camellias and the CC logo. ‘Everything was about what she might have done today. But it is my job to make Chanel modern, huh? How I do it, we don’t discuss: It became second nature.’ So there were iPhone cases for pockets on those nipped tweed jackets, huge sweater dresses punched through with metal rivets, a simple white t-shirt worn under an exquisite black lace evening dress: ‘But that t-shirt had buttons at the back like little jewels, so you don’t destroy your hair and make-up when you put it on,’ he declared, having clearly thought of everything. Not least the footwear – flat riding boots or little loafers with a small silver heel – ‘You can’t ask the models to walk 750 metres in stilettos, huh?’

3) Chanel quilting becomes 'Chesterfield'

What about the Chanel quilting, that came blown-up in giant-sized leather coats? ‘Ah, we don’t call that quilting anymore,’ he said, referring to the famous quited leather sofa, ‘We call it Chesterfield, an evolution of the Chanel quilt’. The same ‘chesterfield’ pattern appeared in the form of eye-make-up. And those colours? ‘I had fun doing the colour! Coco also did colour, but who cares? This was colour for today – we call it “raspberry sorbet”!

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