Chanel has been, and probably always will be, the most famous, most outlandishly lavish fashion brand of all time. Something about the poise and grace each garment possesses show the craftsmanship and tradition that make it so timeless. The brand have, however, often been criticized about their lack of contemporary vision and ingenuity in their style. This being on the basis that the cuts are outdated, and as a brand, are yet to reach the contemporary inspirations and expansions that other brands have taken on in recent years. And although their show last year attempted to combat such statements, shocking the public with models kitted out in robotic headgear and impish glitter, the disregard for their presence in the industry has often been overshadowed by exclusivity and an unapologetic niche.
With this in mind, critics and fashion enthusiasts alike had been heavily anticipating last week’s Pre-Fall 2017 show, to see just what tricks were up their sleeve. Taking place at the Ritz no less, the star studded event was held on home soil in Paris, with the likes of K-Pop musician G-Dragon and Johnny Depp on the guest list.
With Chanel taking baby steps into the world of unconventional and eccentric clothing, there was by no means an air of psychedelia among the collection, but were by all means some unexpected surprises. You may wondering how on earth a Chanel catwalk show at the Ritz could be capable of being in any way a wacky or new age spectacle – you’re right; it’s damn near impossible. But as the model’s danced through the artfully placed dining tables of guests to the tune of eighties classic ‘Clouds Across the Moon’ by Rah Band, it all felt oddly space age. As if somehow the show was taking place somewhere among the solar system, and outside the guilded windows of the Ritz was Pluto and not Paris. The unrehearsed waves and giggles of the model made the experience an oddly casual one, despite the amount of gold plating the architecture. The music was a pleasant mixture of old and new, creating an entirely contemporary dynamic. The nymph-like charm of Willow Smith sang intimately mid show, with an outspoken rendition of her self-written song November 9th in vein of the recent US Election result. The performance itself was a controversial choice, breaking certain foundations of a brand that was once dedicated to classical elegance and courtliness.
The clothes themselves were even on par with the unique scattiness of the event. Purposefully mismatched outfits made up of modern sportswear trends, to zany metallic silvers zig-zagged through tables, comfortably alongside the brand’s signature tweed skirt suits. The lineup of models showed a refreshingly diverse range of not only ethnicity, but of young talent and starlets. The show stayed particularly loyal to those born from the rockers of yesteryear, with the likes of Lily-Rose Depp, Sophia Richie, and Georgia May Jagger strutting their stuff. One of the most unexpected names of the night was Pharrell Williams, modelling an obscenely expensive Chanel coat down the makeshift runway, giddily greeting his friends in the audience as he went. One of whom even stood to dance and twirl the models as they passed. Undoubtedly, though, the person who stole the show was 7-year-old Hudson Kroenig, offspring of model Brad Kroenig, who is no stranger to the catwalk.
The youth and sporadic construction of the night made me start to believe something exciting was happening to Chanel, and I am proud that it is. Karl Largerfeld’s direction seemed to be built around interaction and playfulness. The spectacle even achieved the seal of approval from fresh faced and oh-so-cool Willow Smith, stating that it was “a whole new type of show”. Accolades such as these not only present a new element of modernity in their branding, but they bode well for an ever growing demographic of fashion conscious and creatively driven millennials.
I don’t think I am alone in believing that perhaps this was the show that truly gave us a glimpse of what the brand have to offer in the future of their identity. A reinvention? It would be highly unlikely, considering the fact that the collection were still very much in keeping with the-well-to-do-woman-about-town-walking-her-poodle aesthetic that they have stayed continually loyal to. However, it was very clear that Chanel have made an impressive and conscious transition into what appeared to be an entirely genius hybrid of fun and, dare I say, experimental edge.