PFW AW19: Chanel

THE highlight of every Paris Fashion Week is the Chanel show. Season after season it transports the audience to exquisitely designed settings. This year, history was made with the late Karl Lagerfeld’s final collection for Chanel. It was set to be an emotional show, to say the least. The seats and runway were packed with Karl’s muses, each paying homage to the designer’s three-decade tenure at the House.

Transforming the Grand Palais into an idyllic alpine ski-village, models assembled to pay tribute to the German designer in a one-minute silence – queuing the waterworks.

Following this, was a parade of Karl’s most iconic muses, dressed as the most glamorous of ski-tourists, with Cara Delevingne opening the show in a signature black and white Chanel tweed jumpsuit, paired with a houndstooth coat and matching hat. Variations of this look were seen throughout the show, but with a change of patterns to create an even greater appreciation of Chanel’s adaptable vision. Coats were long, executed in the French Maison’s iconic tweed and monochromatic colour scheme. Models were seen wearing – and pulling off – somewhat challenging snowshoes: moon boots. Alpine wear with a western twist, manifested in the choice of belt, hats, and neck-scarfs neatly embellished with the Chanel logo.

The show had many high points, one of them being the emergence of a crisp and neatly tailored double-breasted coat, redefining the cold-shoulder cut. Thick knits were interchanged for see-through, black and ruffled blouses layered over chic white shirts, creating a fascinating trompe l’oeil.

What followed was a knit paradise, there was both knee-length and calf-length skirts and high neck and low cut jumpers, each patterned with vintage-ski jumper weave and heavily accessorised with pearls and precious stones.

Of course, monochromatic had to make way for a surge of colour and nude tones at points. Guests marvelled at the march of meticulously cut coats, burgundy structured floor-length coats, jean trenches with nude-latex appliqués and beige leather anoraks. Yet this was just the start, as full pink – with matching bags – and blue ensembles made their entrance onto the snowy runway. Introducing some classics to the Grand Palais, the AW19 show featured neatly cut two-pieces, complete with one or two Chanel bags, thus giving ski-wear a necessary, and highly appreciated, Chanel-update.

White flowy gowns had, what seemed to be little skiers printed on them, yet on closer inspection turned out to be the Chanel-logo in a rendition of neon-colours. These subtle, yet incredibly intricate, details are what make Chanel one of the most sucessful and admired luxury brands in the world.

Ending the show was a selection of all-black looks, as well as a delicate, white furry coat that announced the transition to all-white ensembles, signature to Chanel. Utilitarian jackets were worn with rhinestone encrusted tops and tweed trousers.

Before we reached the emotional finale – where models wept as they made their way down the runway to the voice of David Bowie singing Heroes – the Oscar-winning actress Penélope Cruz, who became a face of Chanel in 2018, sauntered down the runway. With marabou feathers and silk ruffles aplenty, her look bounced gracefully as she made her debut on the runway holding a single white rose, the ultimate symbol of spirituality, purity, and innocence.

A show that will go down in history. Karl, you will be missed.

by Lupe Baeyens