Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wild, wild west fashion of Chanel

Chanel’s Texan lasses walking down the rodeo-style runway.

Chanel’s Texan lasses walking down the rodeo-style runway.

Chanel did a two-step into Dallas for a fabulous Texan romp for their Metiers d’Art 2013/2014 presentation.

DALLAS? Really? That was probably on the mind of most people when they heard where Chanel was presenting its Metiers d’Art (Pre-Fall) collection.

Denim blues with a pearly twist from the Chanel Paris-Dallas collection.
Denim blues with a pearly twist from the Chanel Paris-Dallas collection. – Chanel photos

Metiers d’Art is always highly anticipated, as the collection is made by artisans and craftsmen under Chanel’s Paraffection company (set up to preserve artisan workshops) – Massaro (shoemaker), Maison Lesage (couture embroiders), Lemarié (feathers), Desrues (buttons), Guillet (flowers), Causse (gloves), Goossens (gold and silversmith), Barrie Knitwear and the Bodin-Joyeux tannery (they make the lambskin leather for the famed quilted bags).

These special collections have gone from London to Moscow, Shanghai, Bombay and Scotland, in extravagant shows. And now the latest, the Paris-Dallas collection, has landed in Texas.

Heavy patterned woolen blankets are turned into coats.
Heavy patterned woolen blankets are turned into coats.

So why exactly Dallas? With Chanel, it’s always about the connection. After all, this is a house that digs deep into its history to pull out tendrils they can weave together to form a story that becomes a collection.

In this case, it was essentially a “return” to that historical connection.

Dallas revisited

In 1957, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, arrived in Dallas at the invitation of Stanley Marcus, of Neiman Marcus. She received one of Neiman Marcus’ Fashion Awards and her collection was featured in the store.

This Sept. 7, 1957 photo provided by the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University shows fashion designer Coco Chanel, left, and Neiman Marcus leader, Stanley Marcus during at the Marcus Western outside Dallas. The inspiration for Chanel¿s ¿Metiers d¿Art¿ show this year will come from Dallas, the Texas city where Coco Chanel was once given a welcome that included being picked up at the airport in a white Rolls-Royce and being feted at a western-themed party complete with fashion show featuring cows. (AP Photo/DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)
This Sept 7, 1957, photo provided by the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University shows Coco Chanel and Neiman Marcus leader, Stanley Marcus, in Dallas.

Dallas was also a place Coco had visited several times. In fact, there’s even a replica of Villa La Pausa (the mediterranean villa she built in 1927) at The Dallas Museum of Art.

The United States was a place close to her heart. When Coco returned to show her collections in Paris in 1954, she was met with lacklustre response, except from the American press who adored her.

Hence the connection and the short film directed by creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, appropriately titled The Return. The film saw Geraldine Chaplin as Coco and it was featured before the fashion show.

A beautifully cut double buttoned jacket paired with a pleated skirt, perfect for Fall.
A beautifully cut double buttoned jacket paired with a pleated skirt, perfect for Fall.

So there we were, at the Fair Park (this was in December just after an ice storm), which had been transformed into a drive-through cinema from the 50s complete with vintage cars, popcorn and ice-cream. Yes, we actually watched the film while sitting in a vintage car! That was quite an experience, though we couldn’t open the car door to get out, so someone had to open it for us.

The 50s style drive-thru with vintage cars.
The 50s-style drive-through with vintage cars.

Plenty of celebrities were there decked out in Chanel, of course, and Kristen Stewart (the face of the Paris-Dallas collection), Dakota Fanning, Alexa Chung and Lily Collins were among the famous faces sighted.

Then it was on to the show itself, held at the same venue, and Chanel had actually recreated a rodeo, complete with straw and benches. You almost expected cowboys and horses to come out! Instead, we got the collection.

Go west

Lagerfeld saw the collection as Old Texas and a more sophisticated version of cowboys; this was Chanel, after all. Think the Stetson, cowboy boots, fringes, chaps, denim, peasant blouses and feathers.

Despite that, there were still the classic Chanel touches – the tweed suits, pearls and the colours of black, white and beige were still seen.

The classic Chanel tweed jacket western-style.
The classic Chanel tweed jacket western-style.

There were beautiful wearable pieces, from the slouchy pants, to the leather jackets and the long skirted tweed suits. This was the work of artisans, and it showed in the gorgeous detailing and worksmanship.

Heavy blankets were fashioned into capes and coats, and there were Navajo-inspired jewellery, fringed ponchos and eagles’ wings as patterns. I particularly liked a black jacket with double buttons with a panelled skirt, and while a pale blue crop top paired with a crop cardigan and denim and suede jeans complete with matching boots and hat seemed rather over the top, it did make for a striking appearance.

Tex mex meets prairie.
Tex mex meets prairie.

There was nothing particularly new or revolutionary, it was simply a beautifully-made collection that paid homage to the Texan outback of Lagerfeld’s imagination. While some have deemed it politically-incorrect due to the feathered headdresses and Native American influences, fashion is a matter of interpretation, and one tailors a reaction to a collection from one’s own experience.

Native American influences seen from the feathered headdress to the fringed trousers.
Native American influences seen from the feathered headdress to the fringed trousers.

In other words, you can choose to view it positively or negatively, and that is entirely your own reaction.

The accessories are most probably the most relatable to the public. There’s never a shortage of Chanel quilted bags, pearls and costume jewellery, and there were several absolutely gorgeous pieces on display.

The night didn’t end there, Chanel threw a fabulous afterparty, where they recreated a western saloon complete with a mechanical bull (the most popular ride of the night), line-dancing lessons, a performance by British band Hot Chip and plenty of down-home food – steak, nachos and even Frito pie!

The next time you’re doing the wild west, take your cue from Chanel, and as Lagerfeld swaggered on the straw runway to take his bows post-show, there was no doubt who ruled this Texan hoedown.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Chanel , Paris , Dallas , fashion , Metiers d’Art 2013 2014 collection


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