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La Chanelphile

July 21, 2011

Chanel Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Haute Couture Inspiration: Metropolis

return to metropolis vogue germany karl lagerfeld

It’s no secret that Karl Lagerfeld is a fan of Metropolis, a German Expressionist science-fiction silent movie filmed in 1927.  Last year for the February issue of Vogue Germany Lagerfeld shot a stunning editorial called “Return to Metropolis.” It’s also been said the he recently purchased a set of film stills signed by Fritz Lang, the film’s director to Brigitte Helm, the young actress who starred in the film. So, it would only seem natural to see a bit of Metropolis seeping into the Chanel Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2011/2012 collection.

Metropolis is the most expensive silent film ever made – adjusted for inflation it cost about $200 million.  The film is about a futuristic dystopica and explores the relationship between groups in society (simplisticly speaking thinkers v. workers).  In the midst of all this we have a “mad scientist” of sorts who has created a robot woman.  (I apologize there’s really more to the story but I’m trying to be brief).

chanel LED light shoes

So where do we see Metropolis in the Chanel Fall 2011 couture collection?  Karl is rarely, if ever, inspired by just one thing so we see little hints here and there.  First, the film was released in 1927, when Coco Chanel was riding her shooting star of a career and many of the clothing styles in the couture show were inspired by the 1920s and 1930s.  The futuristic feel of Coco Vendôme lit up at night in lights and the models’ LED light shoes felt futuristic.  And the robotic Coco atop the central columns perhaps an homage to the robot in Metropolis?  We’ll never know for sure, but what I do know, is that Karl Lagerfeld likes to keep us guessing.  He gives us enough to come up with our theories but he’s always full of surprises.

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Filed under: Chanel,Chanel Haute Couture — Tags: , , , — La Chanelphile @ 5:26 am

July 20, 2011

Then & Now: Chanel Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Haute Couture Design Inspiration

karl lagerfeld sketch of chanel dress 1931

Karl Lagerfeld has adopted Goethe’s famous motto: “Build a better future by expanding on elements of the past.” At CHANEL he has changed nothing and everything, interpreting CHANEL in his own way with elegance and wit. He would have certainly met Mademoiselle’s approval, since her ideas also often created mini-revolutions before becoming the industry standard.

–Chanel Corporate

The above statement is on the Chanel website and it is eloquent and precise in describing Karl Lagerfeld’s deft hand in picking up where Coco Chanel left off.  You can see elements of Coco Chanel in all the collections but nowhere has this been more apparent than in the Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Haute Couture collection, appropriately called Les Allures de Chanel.

In the sketch above, Karl lends his hand to a dress that Coco Chanel designed in 1931.  The first thing I noticed was the peplum – many pieces in the Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Haute Couture collection highlighted this same very design feature.

Below you can see the 1920s influence of the flapper dress with low waist, straight silhouette and neckline with deep V detail.

chanel haute couture comparing coco chanel and karl lagerfeld

In the next image you can see a Chanel print that may have inspired the fabrication of the dress on the left.  The black fabric with pops of color seem reminiscent of the Chanel print.

chanel haute couture comparing coco chanel and karl lagerfeld

Finally, there’s the boater hat – the hat that started it all. The boater hat is the first hat that Coco Chanel started designing. She would buy them in bulk from the store and then customize them. Her simple straw hats were a fresh counterpoint to the heavily feathered hats of the day that made Coco wonder how women could think underneath all of that excess. Karl Lagerfeld knows the significance of the boater hat so I’m guessing that is why every model in the show was wearing one. An homage to Coco would be nothing without a boater.

boater hat chanel haute couture comparing coco chanel and karl lagerfeld

Unfortunately there are not a lot of images of original Chanel designs but I will continue to look for comparisons to see how Karl has taken the legacy of Coco Chanel and given it a current spin in future collections.

Image 1: Karl Lagerfeld sketch of a Coco Chanel dress designed in 1931, scan from Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life by Justine Picardie, p. 193.

Image 2: Left: Chanel evening dress, 1923-24, scan from Chanel: The Couturiere at Work, by Amy de la Haye & Shelley Tobin, p. 37. Right: Style.com.

Image 3: Christian Bérard illustration featured in American Vogue, July 1937, scan from Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life by Justine Picardie, p. 231. Right: Style.com.

Image 4:  Chanel wearing one of the first boater hats she designed to the horse races in 1910, Chanel and Her World: Friends, Fashion and Fame, p. 60. Right: Style.com

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