It’s Paris Couture Week.
Twice a year, once in February and again in July, the city of love is enveloped in a world of hand-embroidered, expertly hairsprayed fantasy. Few know the world of one-of-a-kind design better than Karl Lagerfeld. He's been around the bend of fashion's greatest stages time and time again. He’s designed for the likes of Balmain and Chloé, and currently serves as the creative director Fendi and his own eponymous label. Why, then, when we hear his name, do we only think of Chanel?
It’s Chanel. The interlocked pair of C’s on a quilted, chain-linked bag. The one name in fashion known by everyone before us that will likely remain in ubiquity for the next century. I don’t give a shit if we have seen that same tweed suit from Karl before — it’s Chanel, for god’s sake.
In a perfect world, legacy wouldn’t be a determining factor in the what’s-hot-what’s-not debate. Yet Donald Trump is president, and climate change is real. By all means, then, is it entirely valid to love a brand for its name.
To be grounded in such a lasting heritage, something great must have happened at the hands of its inheritor at one point or another. When Karl took the helm at Chanel in 1983, the German mastermind began cranking out controversial collections like it was his job (to be fair, it was). When the '90s rolled around, his taste grew ever more objectionable. High-rise bodysuits emblazoned with that omnipresent double-C paraded down his runway alongside suits reminiscent of the matador’s traje de luces. As I recount his bold past in writing, everything sounds too good to have been true (there is nothing I would prefer than to see a new generation of Cindy Crawfords prance across the Paris stage in nothing but a hot pink Chanel bikini). In the 21st century, Karl appears to have focused his energy on paying homage to his lone successor, an act that has become predictable after seasons of relative redundancy.
Karl's 68th couture collection for the house debuted this past Tuesday. Even before viewing the photo gallery on nowfashion.com, I knew this season’s work would be predictably frothy and frilly, accompanied by some characteristically enchanting background, but I still counted down the minutes until I could escape my social science class and devour the photos on a “bathroom break.”
Look one: A tweed skirt suit in a subdued shade of green, accented by a black pussybow at the neck and a chunky silver belt at the midsection. Skirt suit after skirt suit, tweed after tweed, pastel after pastel, ruffle after ruffle. Soon, fully-sequined ball gowns were added into the mix, not without a generous spray of feathers. Spokesmodel Lily Rose-Depp closed out the show in a gargantuan pink pastry of a number. Utterly typical, and yet, I drooled over every last detail.
That’s just the Chanel Effect. You may not like it, but you still have to love it.