When I first saw the different looks in the Chanel Spring 2013 Couture collection, the theme of ‘Victorian Fetish In Plumes’ came to mind inside a woodland fantasy complete with beautiful swans dressed in couture. You had models covered from head-to-toe, in daytime tweeds paired with leather that looked more like latex or lace, not bearing one inch of skin other than their faces, hands, toes and in some instances, their necks.
Apparently Karl Lagerfeld was somewhat thinking the same, in recreating a forested Weimar, where German Romanticism reigned supreme in the late eighteenth century, but he clarified it as being, ”Neo-classical.” Inside the Grand Palais, Karl managed to paralyze most with awe as the models walked past, like graceful swans complete with plumed coifs + exaggerated black eye makeup that includes black tulle cut into 2D eyelashes. For day, their tweeds sparkled where otherwise, they would glisten like black tar in black sequins sometimes accompanied by pattern in other colors.
A constant with most of the looks was a feature Lagerfeld called “frame shoulders.” Usually, a woman would show off her neck, décolletage and shoulders if she fell short of having the best assets, but here, Karl covers them in a contrasting material or texture, to highlight them, as the designer intended, rising swanlike from the shoulders, like ‘the cleavage thing from the Second Empire’.
Some of the silhouettes of long, lean evening columns were purposely created to resemble geometric lines, part of the Bauhaus design movement which originated at Weimar. As for any prints in the collection, truth be told, they’re all embroidery and all by hand you see – this, is where couture gives me chills and continues to amaze. (I’m sure the overtime alone could probably finance a well-deserved vacation after seeing that many sequins!)
As for the ending, Karl caused a stir as only he knows how, with aplomb, wit and lots of bite. As it’s usual tradition to end a show with a bride,
Lagerfeld featured not one but two brides as his way to ‘jab’ at the current controversy of gay-marriage in France. But if you notice, these brides are of the somber kind to which Lagerfeld mused ”There’s nothing more elegant than a certain kind of melancholia.” – A true testament to the notion that art does indeed imitate life, life in Chanel Couture for Spring 2013 will have many smiling nonetheless.