Unordered List

Tuesday 11 October 2011

CHANEL: Karl Lagerfeld, Lord of the Sea addresses the proletariat via harp and conch-shell.

I don't actually like Chanel very much, but I sure as hell love Karl Lagerfeld. He's like the Chuck Norris of fashion, in the purest pop-culture sense that you probably don't want to hear his opinions on politics or society but he's sure as hell a crazy crazy badass. The eternal question is, is Karl Lagerfeld taking the piss? Answer: Never. OR: Always. Possibly both. Because he's Karl Lagerfeld. He's known for saying things like "I have no human feelings," and "If you throw money out of the window throw it out with joy. Don’t say 'one shouldn’t do that' - that is bourgeois." He does not operate by normal human rules.

In characteristically overblown style, Lagerfeld's Chanel Spring 2012 show involved a vast array of expensive paraphernalia, including but not limited to: a set designed around the theme "under the sea" (but in pure snow white, because colours are gauche), Florence Welch rising out of a giant half-shell to sing during the show, Lagerfeld playing (or perhaps just posing beside) a snow-white harp, and models toting giant iridescent conch-shells. Lagerfeld spits upon the recession. He can't see it through his sunglasses, which are treated so as to only show the rich, the thin, and the monochromatic. The thing that makes Lagerfeld a great designer rather than a mere attention seeker, though, is that while loves nothing more than to make a spectacle of both himself and his catwalk shows, the clothes themselves are the precise opposite of loud.

I'm glad they really hammered home the Under The Sea message, because the sparkly-clean whiteness of the set-design was almost overwhelmingly reminiscent of ice and snow. In close-up shots where Florence Welch and her seashell have been cropped out and all you can see is white dresses and white backdrop, it's hard not to be reminded of all those idiotic "wintry" magazine editorials where a model in a bikini and a fur stole lies supine on an ice-floe while glowering sexily at a snow-leopard or fir tree.

Photos from
"Vanity is the healthiest thing in life"-- Karl Lagerfeld

"When I was four I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday." -- Lagerfeld
I'm a bit torn, here. On the one hand, I don't actually like Chanel. Most of these outfits are simultaneously too conservative and too delicate for my tastes. However, with this show Lagerfeld has put together what most established labels mostly fail to do: a collection with a coherent yet subtle theme. Once you know the theme is the ocean, you can see motifs of water and coral and anemones and filmy jellyfish, but as individual outfits they are all acceptably "normal"-looking. I can think of several designers who would take this theme and end up with models parading down the runway wearing a dress made from seashells and a hat in the shape of a cartoon fish.

"Chic is a kind of mayonnaise, either it tastes, or it doesn't"-- Lagerfeld
"I’ve never voted in my life -- for any kind of politics." -- Lagerfeld
With regards to coherent themes within collections, the problem there is rather similar to that current favourite topic of music critics: the demise of the album. (I hear it's my generation's fault for downloading and making online playlists.) The fashion equivalent would be that my aforementioned giant-fish-hat outfit is guaranteed to make the fashion pages of most newspapers whereas only a tiny quantity of fashion nerds with too much time on their hands (me) and very rich people (Anna Wintour) are ever going to carefully look through the entire line and then review it according to overall thematic consistency. But despite the habitual absense of an eye-catching piece to use as shorthand for each season's collection, there's a reason why Lagerfeld's still in charge.

"The most important piece in the house is the garbage can." -- Karl Lagerfeld (No, I don't know what that means.)
"Like poetry, fashion does not state anything. It merely suggests." -- Lagerfeld
"I can forget by indifference, but not forgive. I prefer revenge." -- Lagerfeld
"Sunglasses are like eyeshadow. They make everything look younger and prettier." -- Lagerfeld
Have you ever felt the desire to spend over £100 on a Shepard Fairey-style scarf with Karl Lagerfeld's face on it, plus the word CHIC in block capitals? Well, today's your lucky day because he just made one.

Alternatively, you could just go check out Go Fug Yourself's "Lagerfeld & Friends" caption tag, because it's hilarious. The idea of Lagerfeld posing for photos with Blake Lively while saying things like "You are a wig factory of LIES," is dangerously believable.


  1. As always with Chanel, I like a few things, and am indifferent about the others.

    But I LOVE the cream dress with the black piping.

  2. if chanel did not have karl lagerfeld at the helm, i would be indifferent to it ALL.

    there were several cream dresses with black piping in the full collection, so maybe you'd like more of it than you think?

  3. I'll have to take a look.

    Karl Lagerfeld gifts the brand Chanel with that dollop of eccentricity that they're missing. Because otherwise Chanel is dead boring.