Couture Fashion Week Report: Chanel

25 January 2011

Chanel couture always brings out a front row of heavy hitters and this time Diane Kruger, Jerry Hall, Lou Doillon and Kirsten Dunst were joined by Alexa Chung. From middle youth to middle age, from the sorority to silver surfers, the thing you can be sure of is there will always be a piece of Chanel that makes a lady’s heart beat faster. So Karl’s smart colour choice was pink and he used it in every shade from blush to flesh with, here and there, little highlights of black: a black ribbon choker with a cocktail dress(copy that!) or black skinny trousers under the palest pink tunic (that too!).

What is brilliantly refreshing about Chanel couture is that you can just about imagine it in a real life situation. OK, so we know it’s expensive, and therefore it’s bound to be beyond reach. But at so many couture shows, the situation in which anyone could wear these clothes is an impossible stretch of the imagination. Chanel manages to be both fantastical and feasible.

tennant chanel couture

Another reality check: Karl opened and closed with ladies of a certain age, not skinny Eastern Bloc striplings in the first flush of dewy youth. Stella Tennant, mother of three, opened the show. And Kristen Mc Menamy, the head-turning 45-year-old, grey-haired mother of two closed it. How refreshing, and how strangely unique to see the demographic  most likely to be buying it, actually wearing it on the runway.

And as for the clothes, for the woman who can have anything she wants, it’s going to be all about layers.  Right off, this informal, almost sporty styling gives these super-smart clothes a kind of down-to-earth spin. Trapeze line Chanel tweed jackets, over chiffon skirts, over skinny trousers were the starting point. Faded jeans washed to within a whisker of silky softness were worn with crystal beaded tunics, cropped jackets and flat shoes. Even the most lavishly embroidered tops seemed to have a kind of T-shirt ease.

The evening gowns were firmly in princess territory.  Simple tweed shifts and empire-line column dresses. Were both girlish and figure flattering. The show culminated in a finale of chiffon ruffled gowns worn like frothy explosions under A-line evening coats and a breathtaking fashion moment when Karl joined his models on a sweeping staircase.


It’s for moments like these that most of us are in fashion.

- Paula Reed in Paris

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