Chanel – Couture Fall 2016
In this haute couture fashion week from Chanel, there was no art installation, Broadway set, or movie production, but the actual behind-the-scenes people who physically made the clothes that were walking on the models.
So Karl Lagerfeld moved sewing machines, cutting tables, fabrics, embroidery materials, canvas toiles, every specialist tool of the trade—to the Grand Palais. Showing the backroom “petits mains” (or “small hands”) as they are called in French who bring the sketches to life, transported the audience to the create world of Chanel. Simple but realistic.
Who’s there? As the show of the season which everyone expected to see, the audiences were A-lists: models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Bella Hadid and celebrities including Jessica Chastain, Will Smith, and his daughter, 2016 IT girl and the new Chanel ambassador, Willow Smith.
It is hard to imagine the amount of work and resources required to make an haute couture outfit, but with the backroom as the main attraction, the audience could see the precision, details and materials used. We saw many tweed and fabric rolls, it’s hard to imagine the process that make they become such marvellous garments.
This show portrayed the processes. There were the seamstresses from the Atelier Jacqueline which located on the fourth floor of the Chanel headquarters at rue Cambon. They are people who painstakingly bring Haute Couture creations to life.
While the models were walking out from backstage, they’re draping, sewing 3D plastic embroidery, discussing or maybe tattling Karl. Oops This show is notable for anti-elitist moves. The tribute to ‘les petitie mains’ who work at the Ateliers because without these people, there’s no Chanel. And we saw some Lagerfeld’s sketches patted on the wall too.
When it comes to Chanel, it is all about the quality, and when it comes to Haute Couture, it is noticing the final touches that are barely visible…the stitching spun with fringed spirals and braids plaited with tulle and tweed to the embroidery of stones, matt sequins & beads multiplied endlessly to create flower patterns to the plethora of different pleating.
The collection itself was sleek, structured and graphic. Autumnal shades of browns, beiges, oranges & greys were enriched with pops of pink, black & white, and each piece had an attention to stitching, creating a tromp l’oeil effect.
These are the details that make the collection so breathtaking. Couture is a 3-D experience because the development of these clothes is done in the round, draped on a mannequin, and ultimately developed to fit the specific human body of the person who buys them, this concept is on contrary to Vetements’. Nevertheless, creating the beautiful garments and impress the wearers are the honour of designer and seamstress.
The finest moment came at the end, when Lagerfeld shared his victory lap with the heads of his ateliers, rather than a supermodel in a wedding dress. As a demonstration—proof, really—of the actual value of haute couture. The show was full of passion, showing people doing their things with love as if they have magic.