Chanel: When he’s hot, he’s hot. And these days, Karl Lagerfeld is scalding. The collection he showed for Chanel on Friday was brilliant, not only for the beauty of the clothes, but for its message: Look back briefly, but keep moving ahead.
But then, Lagerfeld is probably the smartest man in fashion. And the savvy only sharpens with time. At a moment when a redux of Eighties overstatement has been pounding the runways like a sledgehammer, he could easily have succumbed to obvious archival temptation. No house represented that decade’s glitz-and-glam energy like his Chanel; if anyone has the right, not to mention the material, to revisit those times, it’s his truly. But why take the easy way out when there’s still so much to say? Of course, he gave a nod to the trend; how could he not? With logomania on the wane, Lagerfeld splattered double-Cs all over hosiery only, while his ultra-chic army of models marched to a Madonna beat. Material girls and ladies with an attitude, absolutely, but here they expressed those traits with sophistication and elegance.
Lagerfeld opened with a parka potpourri, all fluffy, puffy and white, in jackets, skirts and pants. But he quickly turned his attentions to his primary point: signature Chanel tailoring, delivered with a light hand and lighter spirit. Karl focused not on traditional suits but on lean-cut coats worn over dresses and skirts, for a mood which was the essence of chic, but still had a feeling of spontaneity in the mixes. And there were scores of options, in plaids, tweeds, shearlings, in waffle-textured ivory and dreamy pastels, flecks of glitter here, contrast piping there. While he loves color in feminine shades of aqua and pink, he also celebrated the cool chic of winter white, edged in black. Either way, it all looked spectacular.
But, of course, Lagerfeld’s no one-note guy. He also did short jackets over quietly flirtatious skirts, and, because everyone has moments of downtime, he provided dirty denim jackets and jeans as well as some chunky heathered knits. What he didn’t do was make much of a deal over eveningwear, even though Julianne Moore, who needs a dress for a big night in a few weeks, was in the audience. Instead, he showed only a handful of flirty short black dresses done up with feathers and lace, and a pair of long printed chiffons. But with smashing clothes for every other hour of the day, who cares?

Loewe: You can’t fault a guy like Narciso Rodriguez for loving a pretty girl, and in his Loewe collection for fall, he delivered just that — pretty girls. Chic sophistication was the mantra here, but not without the stop-and-look attitude that has become a part of these Loewe girls. The sexy stance was key, especially when done up in all these sumptuous skins that have become this luxury house’s signature. Take, for example, the chic sheared mink suits, vests and safari jackets or the drop-dead versions, including a killer chevron-patterned coat. Then there are those great leathers, which were done up in every possible variation and proved to be the strongest part of the show — a beautiful tan shell and pencil skirt, for instance, piped in pink leather or the chocolate brown leather dress pieced together chevron-style. And the hemline of choice was strictly above the knee, well above the knee. But Rodriguez faltered for evening with his bullion-embroidered shearlings — tiny beading on fur, which, from a distance, looked like a shaved dog. And that’s just no look for a pretty girl.

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