Never has a shell suit been more appealing. Karl Lagerfeld transported us under the sea for his Chanel spring summer 2012 collection. A place where white coral stood 10 feet above us and we came to rest on the seabed to watch these extraordinary creatures past by.
The ocean proved the perfect inspiration for Chanel and married beautifully with the house styles. In its simplest form, white woven elbow-length dresses came with a string of pearls as belts and waffle weave tops and swing skirts had a plastic piping zig zag across it. In its more elaborate guise, bubbly fabric which looked just like sea-foam clung to the body as if any moment it would disappear. Pearlescent boxy jackets had blown-out backs and a seaweed illustration was used on perspex swing macs, sexily revealing the swimwear beneath.
The latter cocktails dresses were so intricate they could have been borne from a couture show. Organza was folded origami style to make a pleated dress, silver metal seaweed hemmed and bibbed a pastel blue shift, lace was designed to look like algae spiralling from hips and collars while pearls and beading were scattered liberally over the tops of pleated, colour swirl skirts.
Clever Karl and the Chanel team consistently achieve new found levels of aspiration from the collection. But it's a wonderful contradiction that still, despite reigning on a pedestal, there are entry points to this world. The sell-out tattoo transfers of yesteryear have been replaced by stick-on pearls that tracked along the spine giving a beautiful, alluring finish to a backless dress. Pearls were also used as hair-pins, and we'd suggest a call to your nearest boutique to get on the waiting list pronto. With silver block-heeled futuristic booties or high-backed sandals, the overtly feminine collection was given the perfect tougher grounding. A triumphant show which less us a little bit speechless.