Chanel Haute Couture Is Inspired by Karl, Not Coco

While the opulence of building a enchanted forest inside the Grand Palais or constructing a monumental, thirty-foot sculpture of a jacket feels like a distant memory, the world of couture lives on. Digitally, at least. As the fashion industry continues to grapple with physical shows during the time of COVID-19, the big fashion houses move forward with virtual presentations. On the heels of Chanel’s first-ever video cruise show, the Parisian atelier presented its fall-winter couture line via the Internet.

Despite the change of format, the iconic label stuck to its lavish roots, with a dash of edgy romanticism. “I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” Virginie Viard stated in the brand’s press release. Delicate tweed sets in deep violet are embellished with precious gemstones, gowns sparkle with hand-beaded embroidery, and in true couture form, Chanel presented a modern Victorian bridal gown complete with airy panniers.

But instead of citing Coco, Viard felt that the collection was more intrinsically tied to Karl Lagerfeld. “This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel,” she said. “Karl would go to ‘Le Palace’, he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed up women, who were very eccentric too.” She also notes Germanic paintings as influence, tying back to Lagerfeld’s home country. “I really had Karl’s world in mind…”

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With a video and lookbook shot by Mikael Jansson, the collection traded in the catwalk for models Adut Akech and Rianne Van Rompaey dancing on a soundstage of flashing lights set to the airy, electro-pop tunes of musical duo Jockstrap. This is not the extravagant presentations in the Champs-Élysées that we’re used to, but the clothes remain distinctively Chanel.

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