Chanel does Marc Jacobs. This is what I scrawled in my notebook at the show on Friday. And not because the always modern Karl actually went a little retro, channeling the 1960's. No, I wrote this because Chanel showed a handful of knitwear looks (about 1/3 of the 65 piece collection) that were so incredibly youthful as to make one imagine a Marc Jacobs girl that had traded up to rue Cambon.
The fashion trade publication, Women's Wear Daily, called it "luxe layering." Layering indeed. Jacket sleeves were three-quarter length to show off a fingtertip-touching sweater sleeve. Cropped pants were worn over stockings. With short skirts, the rest of the leg was always covered--either by over-the-knee boots or tall, scrunchy leggings that are undoubtedly being knocked off by the fast-fashion chains as we speak.
These layered knit pieces fit in nicely with the rest of the collection--black and white dresses that were very London youth-quake. The models’ hair and makeup were inspired by the British icon Penelope Tree. I loved this Belle de Jourish number.
There are emerging trends from Paris this season (bubble skirts and shawl-collared Balenciaga-style coats spring to mind), but Karl didn’t touch ‘em. A year ago, he made a bold statement with a gritty collection that decisively broke away from the bow and pearl-wearing lady-monster trend he had created. For Spring 2005, he took a sort of ironic look at celebrity culture. In contrast to those statements, this collection seemed just a sort of organic display of how a hip girl likes to dress. (And Suzy Menkes rides him for it).
Tail wagging the dog? Perhaps, but it was just done so damn well. There’s something about seeing the clothes in person. You realize that Karl's least exciting looks, his throwaways, are more valuable than the crème of other designers.
Poking around on style.com at Chanel collections of years past, I was reminded that Karl used to use color! GASP. And it was not so very long ago. He’s doing the right thing to stay in the palette of gray, beige, pale pink, and of course, black and white these days. It lends a sort of season-to-season coherence that allows his fans to gush, “It’s always so Chanel,” when in fact, it’s always so Karl. Just check out the silhouette of his jeans here (a mirror to the leggings he showed Friday), and you will see the German designer's personal tastes are very much a part of what makes today’s Chanel line, so very Chanel.