Okay so Karl Lagerfeld is known for his creative excesses. And we know they scale their dizziest heights at Chanel’s runway shows, staged each season inside the historic Grand Palais in Paris.
Past collections have included lavish sets styled to look exactly like an art gallery or a brasserie. There was the Chanel Airport, the Chanel Casino, and the notorious Chanel Supermarket - complete with 5,000 different branded Chanel grocery items. (See the August issue of Marie Claire for our Reportage feature on the headline-making highlights.)
But recently they’ve been dialing things back. Chanel’s Autumn ’16 ready-to-wear collection was shown in the simplest possible set, with only cream carpet and gold chairs to adorn it.
The set for the Autumn ’16 couture show on Tuesday was even more intimate. It recreated the house’s atelier [workroom] on the rue Cambon, down to the fabric rolls, mannequins and cutting tables.
Models were shown during the process of having fittings, and the seamstresses were centre stage. They were pinning, cutting and sewing in the background as the models walked. Some even joined the master when he took his bow.
The house offered this rather lovely explanation: “Without the virtuosity of its petites mains [literally, small hands] working in the secrecy of the ateliers, Haute Couture wouldn’t have its unique and incomparable brilliance.”
Lagerfeld said simply: “I thought that was a modern idea to make them participate,’ said Lagerfeld. “They should be shown too.”
And with that, The Kaiser rendered hand-sewing the chicest thing on the planet. Needle and thread at the ready, kids, you know what to do …