There is an air of familiarity to every Chanel couture collection – while Karl may entice us with a change in silhouette or a shift in theme these alterations are essentially new twists on old tricks. Chanel is always Chanel and no matter where its head designer draws his inspiration some things are certainties. One knows just what to expect from Chanel each couture season – remixed versions of the classic tweed suits, glittering gowns that make use of the best in old guard ateliers and perhaps most importantly an incredible sense of showmanship with regards to the presentation of these embellished offerings.
In this age of reinvented brand identity Chanel has managed to remain relevant while holding onto all that was inimitably Coco. However admirable such unwavering adherence to brand persona such is loyalty can be a double edged sword. Where other houses have breathed fresh life into their offerings with wild new creative directions of late Lagerfeld’s once revolutionary collections for Chanel have become pleasant repetitions.
This season in particular was fairly devoid of surprises – perhaps it was Anna Wintour’s Costume Institute F/W couture preview that dulled the wow factor but aside from a few electric jolts of unexpected color things were business as usual. The ensembles in and of themselves are spectacular – a sea of amplified proportions and intricate pleating with accents of jewels, fur or feathers. Every element of luxury has been pushed to its natural limits and yet the results are deceptively quiet in nature. A Chanel suit may be crafted from the finest silks and trimmed with chinchilla but it never ventures into gauche territory.
Its this commitment to refinery that ultimately saves even the least exciting Chanel collection – something has to be said for a sense of timelessness. The rossette embellished and jewel encrusted gowns shown this season will be just as beautiful in twenty years as they are now – the artistry behind them is unquestionable. While the 1980s-esque pinched waists and puffed sleeves may not pack the visual punch of Fall/Winter 06’s stark jumpers they still represent an impeccable standard in luxury.