2008 January 23

Chanel - Paris Couture Spring 2008

Chanel Couture Spring 2008 Chanel Couture Spring 2008
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(PARIS) "Coquille Chanel!" Karl Lagerfeld, in a pun on the French world for shell, channeled a new luxury for the esteemed fashion house, injecting a rounded view into what has until now remained a linear brand.

Emerging out of a Chanel jacket comparable in size to the Titanic--reaching nearly as high as the ceiling of the Grand Palais and cast in a hard concrete-like finish--models of decidedly less intimidating proportions whisked by quickly in a deluge of garments featuring conch, shell, and scallop shapes and touches, as well as a sea anemone-inspired dress. Easy to do, given they were all shod in comfortable flats.

"It's about a new luxury," said Lagerfeld, whose oceanic couture was inspired by a book on the underwater world. "I was tired of people thinking of Chanel in the same way, always attracting this kind of woman or that kind of woman. I saw pictures of how the Chanel jacket was copied by other designers [which I will not name] over the years and I wanted to do something light, fresh, and most importantly, new."

It all made for a dazzling fresh [water] perspective, ever more so important given the world's current above-ground economic troubles. "I have in many ways a new life," Lagerfeld said. "And so should the Chanel woman."

With upswept hair ensconced in decorative shells, models strutted out from an opening in the massive jacket edifice onto a rotating runway wearing decidedly rounder jackets, along with skirts that, at first glance, appeared to have been seduced by the ocean waves. Super light fabrics were key to the collection, evident in the chiffon cocktail dresses that looked like they were whipped up with fresh clouds (of which a midnight blue version was to die for). Against the sunlight pouring into the Grand Palais, even the buttons radiated and sparkled.

The ocean floor, however, wasn't the only source of inspiration for Lagerfeld. While the backbone of the designs had an aquatic feel to them, they were trimmed with feathers and metallic pieces that had a decidedly urban mood to them. Together, it all just worked.

But ultimately, it was the jacket that held its own. Cast in both conservative shapes to appease a more mature clientele, but also reimagined in a romantic puffed-sleeve version, he managed to retain--while capturing--a new audience, or "fish," as he would say.