Couture Report: Costume Drama chez Chanel

26 January 2010

I love it when the venues are small. You get right up close to the clothes and right up close to the other front row fashionistas. The 13 year old blue rinsed blogger, Tavi, and the Telegraph’s venerable Hilary Alexander were deep in conversation huddled together, generations apart, but in matching black afghan hats.


Kanye West sussed out Claudia Schiffer. And Alexa Chung was taking pictures of the photographers taking pictures of her with a retro Russian camera. That girl has the most impossibly perfect legs, which for the Chanel show she had dressed in grey woolly tights (John Lewis school department girls!) and high heeled Chanel clogs (we’ve told you several times already they are the shoe of the season).

When we all settled down, it was a fabulous show. It’s normal, during couture week, to be blown away by the spectacle of it all. But what Karl Lagerfeld delivers is fashion drama, show spectacle AND clothes that could literally walk off the runway and into a real wardrobe.

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The overall mood was 1930s drapey elegance amped up with 60’s futurism and softened again with a colour palette that was ultra feminine. The tweed suits had knee length shorts with the collarless jackets, the soft cocktail shifts were trimmed with starbursts of silver embroidery and the evening dresses were generally cut as columns of satin or crepe trimmed with pearls or highlighted with silver sequins. The long lean shape was punctuated with frothy short cocoon capes or dresses in chiffon or satin.

Colours ran from primrose yellow, through powdery blues, rosey pinks and flesh toned creams. And the look was finished with towering heart shaped hair dos and outrageous silver boots with sculpted pearl trimmed heels. So maybe it does sound a little low key for the six figure price tag that comes with couture. But for those who like their big ticket items to come with some costume drama then consider this for a ‘to do’ list and think again.

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Those shoes, by shoemaker Massaro, each take 30 hours to make. The hidden seams, a signature of couture luxury take 3 hours of hand work per meter of fabric. The wedding dress had 1300 hours of work in it alone. The silk and tulle cape was worked by one person using 200 meters of tulle and taking 800 hours to complete. The cocoon cape made from individual circles of satin represents 700 hours of work. While another of the cocoon dresses with matching jacket was made from 13,000 hand made satin flowers.

Couture is often referred to as fashion’s Formula One. And as with the ultimate car, the numbers are mind boggling, but then so is the impression it leaves.

- Paula Reed

Stay tuned for more show reports direct from Grazia's style director in Paris and don’t forget to check out her review of Armani Prive and Christian Dior. Plus keep an eye on our Twitter page for more of the latest news!


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