PARIS COUTURE: Chanel’s Skate Couture and Chalayan’s Vionnet Laser Clouds

Chanel’s Skate Couture and Chalayan’s Laser Clouds

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By: Rebecca Lowthorpe Follow @Rebecca_ELLE

Bum bags, knee and elbow pads, trainers with every look – that’s right CHANEL does COUTURE TRAINERS with every look! But before we get to Karl’s ‘Cambon Club’ collection - think skate-couture, all fresh, sporty and upbeat - we must first marvel at the set. This is Chanel after all.

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Karl Lagerfeld with his godson and Cara Delevingne closing the Chanel Spring/Summer 2014 couture show

Picture a swiveling arena of mirrored panels that revolved to reveal two sweeping staircases, below which sat Sebastien Tellier with his orchestra – the musician wore baby pink and blue, a ZZ Top beard and shades. The set had all the pizzazz of a big band musical extravaganza, like the Cotton Club, the prohibition-era dancehall from which Lagerfeld had taken his club’s name.

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There were 65 models, of course, primped and preened by 25 hair stylists, 28 make-up artists and six manicurists. Cara Delevingne opened and then closed the show with a small blonde child in tow – Lagerfeld’s godson, it turned out - wearing a silver sequined suit. Cute!

The clothes were delectably pretty. They appeared in crystal fresh colours – shell pinks, lilacs, whites, silvers. And were decorated – my god, what the Chanel atelier and its couture work rooms can do with a box of sequins! Not to mention beads, embroideries, feathers… The effect was always light despite the fact that the silhouette was mostly quite sculpted – high necks, curved sleeves, cropped tops that revealed narrow waists clasped in Chanel’s signature tweed. But instead of looking solidly heavy, it all looked as light as thistledown, not least because of the delicious footwear – also made to couture standard - imagine, trainers hand-sequined, beaded, and veiled in net.

Hussein Chalayan first couture collection for Vionnet

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in a small warehouse in the 16th arrondissement, Hussein Chalayan showed his first couture collection for Vionnet, now owned by Goga Ashkenazi.

So what’s a conceptual minimalist to do with a heritage couture house? No bling here, folks. No feathers, crystals, sequins.

Instead Chalayan tapped into the heart of Vionnet – the mistress of the bias cut – and sent out stringent gazar evening sheaths that were laser cut, on the bias, with just one seam to hold them together - a feat of technical engineering that he called ‘Laser Cloud’ – yes, this is what clouds would look like if they could be cut with a scalpel. Each section was aptly named: ‘Liquid Shelves’ came, quite literally, in the form of three-dimensional shelves protruding from the front of a dress; ‘Flat Sculpture’ saw dressmaker’s paper pattern pieces floating down the catwalk in cream, their fine black dotted lines (marking out where to cut or fold or pleat) formed a beautiful print. And finally ‘Electrify’, where the collars of dresses had been made from bright orange electrical wires, ‘as if they had charged the threads’, explained Chalayan, who started work on the demi-couture collection in November. Demi, not full couture, as clients will have just one fitting.

It made you think what kind of interesting woman would wear such intellectual eveningwear. Someone you would definitely want to have dinner with.

See the Chanel Couture show

See the Vionnet Couture show

Read Rebecca's report on Valentino and Maison Martin Margiela

See every Spring/Summer 2014 couture show

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