Without the virtuosity of its petites mains working in the secrecy of the ateliers, Haute Couture wouldn’t have its unique and incomparable brilliance. At CHANEL their expertise is deployed in two tailleur ateliers and two flou ateliers [tailoring and dressmaking]. Karl Lagerfeld wished to pay them tribute by dedicating to them the Fall-Winter 2016/17 CHANEL Haute Couture collection presented on July 5th. So, beneath the glass roof of the Grand Palais, the ateliers on the rue Cambon have been recreated down to the smallest detail. Tables, sewing machines, mirrors, pins, fabrics, multi-coloured threads, toiles and mannequins: the inner world of seamstresses is put under the spotlight and animated before the audience by the premières of the ateliers, followed by their seconds and the 78 seamstresses from the House of CHANEL which counts more than 120. “I thought that was a modern idea to make them participate. They should be shown too.”
This season the cut is defined by a sleek, pure silhouette. It forms the thread running through a structured and graphic collection. Beveled or angular cut shoulders, held with stitches create a “standing up” effect, framing a flat profile without any padding. The 3/4 length sleeves answer the 7/8 turn-ups hems of the culottes and wide-cut trousers worn over draped leather thigh boots. The tweed jackets highlight the waist with protruding pockets on the hips. Coat dresses and jacket dresses in tweed form games of trompe-l’œil. An ethereal hairstyle tied back with a grosgrain headband further enhances and blurs these strict and geometric shapes. For evening, the silhouette is inspired by the work of English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. While shoulders and hems of dresses are adorned with crests of feathers, the high waists, sometimes punctuated with protruding pockets, smooth the silhouettes. Dresses flare out over soft cages, almost tracing a pencil line. The fabrics radzimir, ziberline, mikado, taffetas and faille are joined by chiffons, crêpe georgette, organza, silk tulle, embroidered laces and almost transparent grosgrains. The same refinement is reflected in the treatment of colour. Autumnal shades – browns, marron glacé, oranges, beige and greys – are nuanced and enriched with a palette of pinks, blacks and whites as block colours or woven in duos. The exacting perfection of Haute Couture is reflected in the minute details sometimes barely visible. Thus linings of protruding pockets are reworked, stitching is spun with fringed spirals and braids are plaited with tulle and tweed. The embroidery of stones, matt sequins, beads and feathers are combined and multiplied endlessly to create enchanting flowers and compose neck straps. Draping alternates with bias cut pleats as well as accordion, cone, sunray and flat pleats. Articulated jewellery is transformed into frogging and precious cuffs. The highlight of the collection is the bride. This season Karl Lagerfeld has imagined her in a bustier and trousers fashioned from lace, tulle and satin encrusted with strands of pink and white wool, and kept warm with jacket and train embroidered with feathers.
As bearer of this tradition and guardian of a unique savoir-faire, Haute Couture embodies the primary vocation of CHANEL. More than ever it is a laboratory of ideas, the quintessence of creativity and dreams applauded this Tuesday, July 5th 2016 by CHANEL ambassadresses Vanessa Paradis, Willow Smith, Zhou Xun and Caroline de Maigret, actor Will Smith and actresses Jessica Chastain, Milla Jovovich and Hari Nef.