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The set was scaled down for the Chanel Autumn/Winter 2014 haute couture collection in Paris this morning. A bright, white space was framed by graphic gilded doors which opened to reveal nothing more obviously scene-stealing than an open fire over which hung a mirror stamped with the famous house's iconic logo. Intimate? Well, yes, relatively speaking at least, enabling those in attendance to see the hand-workmanship of the most revered and respected ateliers in the world up close.
It was extraordinary: jewelled flower embroideries in all the shades of pink and red covered one sweet cocktail dress. Golden Rococo curlicues were lovingly applied to everything from moulded white neoprene gowns to bags and the (pregnant and blooming) bride's train. There were shades of Versailes here: in those voluptuous and precious motifs and in a pretty jewelled puff-sleeved blouse, say: Marie Antoinette playing shepherdess for the new age.
If the embellishment was in places historical, the silhouette was modern, evocative, reportedly, of Le Corbusier's white houses though with a gentle, curvaceous edge. Concrete embroideries - a fashion first? - also refered to the influential architect. Sequences of little white dresses (in place of the usual little black ones?) had slender tops but rounded or bell-shaped skirts falling either to above the knee or ankle. With crystal edging their hems and neck lines they looked lovely.
There was, of course, tweed too - or embroideries that looked like tweed at least. They were particularly gorgeous dark and shot through with jewel colour. A narrow shouldered jacket with a full, short skirt, a strapless column enfolding the body and trimmed with fluttering feathers.
M Lagerfeld is in his element fusing history - and French history in particular - with the futuristic and he did so in a remarkably seamless manner. With custom-made hats pinned to the backs of their spiked hair, cycling shorts peeping out beneath their skirts and all wearing flat thong sandals tied with silk ribbon, models looked fresh and youthful throughout. There was an ease to even the most intricately embellished pieces that spoke of both unprecedented luxury and a relevance to contemporary lifestyle, and that is rare.
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