Chanel Couture 2019: The Practice of Everyday Life

“Every story is a travel story – a spatial practice,” wrote French sociologist Michel de Certeau about the architectural grandeur of cities, and the intimate stories inscribed by each passerby’s journey.

Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.


In many ways, this is what Karl Lagerfeld sought to do with his 2019 couture collection: subtly reinventing a classical wardrobe with a personal sense of appropriation.

 

This started with the show venue: after offering mind-blowing, Instagram-friendly Niagara Falls or a life-size spaceship, he went for a choice so simple it was almost provocative – inside the Grand Palais, the quais, ie. the Seine’s riverbanks, seconds away from the venue, had been replicated to a T, including its little bouquinistes stands.

 

Karl Lagerfeld at the Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.


Following the footsteps of previous normcore décors including a supermarket and a Haussmannian street, he continued to deliver a comment on the practice of everyday life through every look. Stepping away from the typical bravado of such a collection, he instead chose to inject a couture quality into the simplest details. The models took firms steps down the runway in low-heeled booties and Suffragette-like skirt suits with a wide slit that unveiled a glitter undershirt. This hybrid tailoring also appeared in boyish tweed ensembles: sheer, pleated shirt dresses with a drop waist; velour ensembles paired with split sleeves, long silk gloves, and hair slicked back into a quiff.

 

This redefined the contemporary role of luxury and couture: not flashy, poufy princess dresses suggesting a woman removed from society, but rather, clothes for a grounded customer looking for discreet quality. And, indeed, the details twisted and elevated each piece – whether in the fine featherwork on the hemlines, a bustier entirely embroidered in sequins for a Pointillism effect, flashes of rich orange or midnight blue silk lining – contrasting the otherwise muted palette, in greys, black, teal.

Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

Whether a comment on casual wear, what we call streetstyle, or post-luxury, Karl proved once again that Haute Couture, like any segment of the fashion industry, is a mirror of its time. And today’s femininity seems to be ready to step off social media and into the real world.

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