From within a structured wooden house, Karl Lagerfeld released his designs one by one into an open garden space meticulously constructed for Chanel’s Spring-Summer 2016 Haute Couture show during Paris Fashion Week. Ovoid sleeves, elongated skirts, and a gamut of beige circled the runway collecting approvals for the essence of each design but not the detail for which the House of Chanel has built its name.
It is behind closed doors and no fewer than four security personnel that the collection’s underlying themes become apparent. In a non-descript building on a hurried avenue in Manhattan, New York Fashion Week guests enter a hushed private showroom to view and touch pieces that Chanel’s finest ateliers have pored over for hundreds of hours, finely altering each stitch, bead, and choice of fabric to work with Lagerfeld’s visions for the season.
The brevity of nature makes its presence known in every piece, from the sequins sewn in disjointed lines of a bold wide-cut bolero to imitate the way evening light might reflect off its angular structure, to the thin hand-painted wood shavings threaded together to form a light dress that rustles like delicate leaves. Even functional elements like a sheer kick pleat on a long slender dress include nods to nature with its faint golden honeycomb print.
Although Lagerfeld’s designs are often unexpected, their elements are never without reason. With the countless hours devoted to Chanel’s Haute Couture collection, the asymmetry of each decorative bow is undoubtedly intentional though inexplicable to anyone other than Karl Lagerfeld.