Paris Day 9: Chanel’s New Beginning and Vuitton’s Beauty of Controversy

They had to ask Karl Lagerfeld twice before he accepted to take the helm of Chanel in 1983. “Everybody was saying to me to not accept the appointment because it was the impossible mission of reviving a maison. Today, we try to reanimate even the most absurd brands, but at the time there was a need for new names,” his voice spoke in an audio clip sent through the speakers before the most awaited show of the season started. This followed one minute of silence. It was a delicate memorial to the iconic Kaiser Karl who transformed something like an irrelevant (at the time) Fashion House into a worldwide empire. 

Chanel Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

The show represented the end and the beginning of a chapter. The last collection made by him and the first one where he wasn’t there. There was Virginie Viard instead, Director of Chanel’s Fashion Creation Studio and, mostly, Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years. She has been appointed by Alain Wertheimer, the co-owner, with his brother Gérard, of the maison, to keep on the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. 

In light of these emotions, the show and, as with every season, la grandeur of the setting inside the Grand Palais was surprising. This time was a somewhere-in-the-Alps village with Chalet Gardenia (where the models came from), other wooden houses, snow, and a mountain landscape for a 360-degree view. 

Chanel Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

The collection was delicate and balanced, not overdecorated as it has sometimes been in the past. It seemed the story of a lady going to the mountains for skiing and, after a day on the slopes, she got ready for some aprés ski strolling in the coolest locations. Chanel classics were all there, with bouclé and pied-de-poule in every shape and size, a strong section of knitwear, as well as some sportswear pieces with puffy colourful dawn jackets. The four beautiful evening cloaks were definitely the princess-like must-have items. 

Miu Miu Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

The cape was one of the key pieces also at Miu Miu. All the classic outerwear for women has been turned into long cloaks: the classic blue redingote, the checks, the British country waxed cotton, the military parka, and the camouflage. This latter was another important theme of the collection and Miuccia Prada gave a precise meaning to it: the symbol of a silent rebellion, a nonviolent protest that is against the world that people are messing up, but also used to protect ourselves and as a motivation to be more wise and politically active. Also, the hiking inspired items and accessories are symbolic of the harmony with nature that society is restlessly destroying. The setting was by Rem Koolhaas’ AMO (a comeback after seasons with French creative duo M/M Paris) and has been made in collaboration with New Zealand born Sharna Osborne with the usage of different media that was a kind of a private diary of the artist about an intimate femininity echoed in the collection with girly flowery dresses and prints. The over-conceptualisation of the collection risks being a distraction from the main focus, which is the clothes. The cloaks worn with shorts and thigh highs were very sophisticated yet very girly, but adding layers of concept and styling pushed the result in an unclear direction.

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

Louis Vuitton thought big, as usual, playing the expected game of the power house. This time, they created somewhat of a paradox: building the Centre Pompidou inside the Louvre’s Cour Carré where the show took place. Nicolas Ghesquière discusses the concept after the show: “I love the beauty of controversy. The Beaubourg was so disputed and even hated when it was built because of the highly innovative and unforeseen architecture by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers (also Gianfranco Franchini took part in the initial project); it was considered disturbing at the time of the opening in 1977. Now it is an iconic place in Paris and to the rest of the world.” 

The collection was a clear reference to the 80s when the controversial museum was becoming a reference point. The Patrick Nagel look was unmistakable, as the remix of the leading fashion creators’ aesthetic of those years, when fashion was blooming and it was a real territory of experimentation. The constructions on shoulders were the most eye catching tricks, for the frilly dresses and blouses or the rigorous coats and jackets, and the silhouette was often in an hourglass shape. The show was captivating, but the collection showed a lot of good accessories rather than clothes that can display feedback from real life. 

Lacoste Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

Louise Trotter made her debut as Creative Director at Lacoste presenting a collection that moved away the usual chic sportswear cliché everyone would expect from this brand. Her effortless but sophisticated personal sign was in the flow presented. The beginning of the process was an homage to René Lacoste as champion, inventor (maybe only few know that counted among his inventions is the tennis ball machine), and stylish person. Sequences of color block looks radiated from the collection – from the more natural urban hues to the classic tennis whites, greens, and lemon yellow. The end was a Sacai-ish mix and match of patterns, fabrics, and colours. The overall result was undoubtedly pleasant, and the hope is that we could find those clothes in the stores as it didn’t happen with their predecessors. It would be a pity to see such a creative effort for cool clothes starting and ending just on the catwalk.