Chanel Cruise 2013 Collection
May 17, 2012 by J.T.
Monday May 14th, 2012 – Chateau de Versailles
“This is not about reality, this is a fantasy, we need to dream and this is what we are doing today” pointed out Karl Lagerfeld as he gazed upon the splendor of the Trois Fontaines gardens in idyllic Versailles, the venue for his latest Cruise collection. For this off-season show, the Kaiser decided to invite press from all over the world to the chateau of chateaux, that of Louis XVI, to showcase his “Marie Antoinette-meets-manga” collection. And the location could not have been more ideal: on a perfectly clear, blue sky day, journalists were whisked to a royal castle on the outskirts of Paris, one whose opulence and grandeur is in perfect proportion to its infinitely long gardens and canals.
Guests arriving at the Blvd. des Reines entrance were greeted to a row of Nattier blue and gold cabanas, with its 3 row seating, flanking parallel to a centerpiece fountain. And like a scene out of Inception, the intimacy of the locale felt very much like a dream within a dream, whose narrative would be told through Karl’s interpretation of the fantastical and imaginary.
But given the location, there was an undercurrent risk that a literal interpretation of French royal-wear could be considered kitschy. Many a designer have traveled down similar paths only to be told their collections were too costumey and not made for the real consumer. But were others have failed, those that have gone onto success have done so by way of whimsy. By attrition of exquisite detail and styling, KL delivered a playfully whimsical collection that made us re-imagine Mrs. Antoinette as a contemporary fashion neophyte.
For next Cruise season, Chanel took us to the lands of the Aristo-punk. Girls were bursting with freshness and ingenuity in their puffed microshorts that crumbled like baskets of lace ruffles, which was sometimes paired with small denim jackets in Marquis sky blue or white leather. Manga-styled hair bobs, sans rollers, were done in pink or black raven tones and placed atop a subtle pony-tail. Pastel eye shadows, blush-red cheeks skewing toward soft pink, assorted jewelry made of molten glass and milky plastic camellias in marshmallow hues completed the looks. “What counts is the spirit of this court, not the reality,” said again Karl Lagerfeld, who always filters the ‘establishment’ through the sieve of his own liberal interpretations.
But Karl offered counterpoint to the excesses of ruffles and royal connotations by styling the girls to be relaxed, not constrained. Whether the girls looked like Mrs. Fontanges in fragile ivory chiffon, or a more serious version of Madame Montespan, or even a Mademoiselle Maintenon in a youthful tweed number, there was this inescapable boyish-girl quality that was sublimely fresh. One by one, they descended on the pebbled path, appearing like an army of candy shop punkettes, either in knickers or black leather jeans, in jackets with multicolored, foam-shaped PVC details, strolling in sneakers, and dare one say even, creepers. The new versions of the “Boy” bag, a hit for the house, helped bridge the divergent concepts.
Seeing this level of high-low contrast conjured up thoughts of Gabrielle Chanel, who once exclaimed that “Luxury is not democratic.” Strangely that day, it was. In its own way, at least.
Chanel Cruise 2013 Backstage Video
See all the photos below: