Karl Lagerfeld Explores the Dark Side of Chanel

With Couture Week in full swing and the darker days of fall and winter right around the corner Karl Lagerfeld unveiled Les Allures de Chanel yesterday a line of haute couture that was an inspired celebration of nightfall featuring many of Coco’s signature styles. The set for the show was a shadowy mock-up of the Place Vendome, complete with a robotic Coco watching the runway from Napoleon’s place atop the central column; clearly a reference to Fritz Lang’s sci-fi/noir masterpiece Metropolis. Yet despite the awe inspiring backdrop it was the collection itself that had all of Paris buzzing last night.

Les Allures de Chanel captured all femininity of its namesake with a noir sense of romance that was dominated by shades of black, grey, deep purple and midnight blue. When white or Chanel’s signature fuchsia were used Lagerfeld expertly defused each with shadowy veils or glittery black beading. The silhouettes were womanly and unmistakably Coco, featuring “lamp shade” drapes, ankle grazing dresses, elongating boots and gloves as well as jutting peplums. The collection jumped jarringly through the chronology of Chanel touching on the styles of the twenties such as Coco’s ubiquitous tweed suits only to move rapidly back to the turn of the century with echoes of Paul Poiret. It was no mistake that Lagerfeld pluralized the name of the collection, intentionally making note of the many sides Coco’s style while still striving to preserve her mystery.

As with the fall ready to wear collection Les Allures de Chanel spoke to Lagerfeld’s refusal to compromise, which many brand loyalist might find a challenging when looking for styles to suit them from this newest offering by Chanel. However even if the somber feelings of shadows and moonlight are not your style it hard to look at this collection without admitting its immensely seductive allure. With this haute couture Lagerfeld has clearly taken Chanel over to the dark side for fall/winter 2011-12 and for much of Paris the temptation to join him has proved too much.


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