Eco-couture. The word seems redundant. After all, couture is, in and of itself, the ultimate eco-friendly, ethically responsible way of producing fashion. It takes hundreds of hours of carefully sourcing top-quality fabrics and of hand-crafting, and will last a lifetime. But that’s how Karl Lagerfeld defined the latest Chanel couture collection, which, for the most part, replaced the glittery sequins, luxurious beads and organza embroideries we are used to seeing with wood shavings and paper ornaments. Still, we will take the concept with a pinch (or several) of salt: for all the wood shavings covering tweed, we couldn’t help but wonder why what seemed like half the Bois de Boulogne’s turf had been transported to the Grand Palais to make the very zen-looking show set, complete with an Eastern-looking wood house and a pond with lilies. Plus, Karl being the Kaiser of reinvention, it is more than likely that next season he’ll have forgone all about eco-couture in favour of a brand new idea.
But forget all the ethical considerations and you’re left with a collection featuring some beautiful garments. For once, Lagerfeld kept it simple where volumes were concerned, by sticking to a flattering, elongated silhouette (which induced sighs of relief among the audience) and long hemlines. The cream variations on the tweed tailleur were an ode to classic French chic (Edie Campbell looked fantastic in a simple white and navy blue skirt suit) and the raffia and wood details added a dash of freshness, especially to a coat and dress ensemble where the assembled wood bits were interspersed with glittery beads, and an embroidered top, worn over a plissé silk chiffon dress, where the shavings, along with pearls, took the shape of flowers. There were some white and black satin dresses towards the end of the show that had a charming early thirties spirit to them, a counterpoint to the very contemporary bride look, a sleeveless dress paired with a hooded bomber jacket embroidered with raw cotton and paper, worn by Mica Araganaz.
It was a demonstration of slow fashion in every possible sense, from the painstaking artisanship to the pace of the models on the catwalk (surely the cork wedges didn’t help), topped off with a stunning finale where the windows in the wooden temple opened up to reveal all the models standing, an ode to the legendary Egoïste advert shot in the eighties by Jean-Paul Goude. Nostalgic indeed, but, in a world of fast fashion, so undeniably on point.