Before the introduction of their new line, Shane Cullen investigates the journey of iconic fashion house Chanel from old-style Parisian glamour to its current modern Renaissance.
WHEN asked about Chanel, one would probably think of the classic No.5 perfume, simple elegance and vintage couture. Karl Lagerfeld, however, has breathed new life into the brand in the form of new styles and celebrity ambassadors such as Kristen Stewart, Lily-Rose Depp and new face Willow Smith. They follow in the footsteps of fellow A-list names including Blake Lively and Keira Knightley to become the face of the brand. This move has not only created a new image for the brand, but has also gained a wider audience to appeal to.
In his 33 year-reign as creative director for Chanel, Lagerfeld has turned around the label’s image, pushing design boundaries where no director had gone before. Lagerfeld was no stranger to the world of design and trends before heading up Chanel, having been the head of French fashion house Chloé and a contributor for Fendi. One of his turning points was 1983’s Haute Couture collection, following Yves Saint Laurent’s lead and presenting his own take on the empowering female tuxedo. Among the showcase included tailored suits and the classic Chanel black dress, all with a modern touch.
“Karl Lagerfeld has breathed new life into the brand in the form of new styles and celebrity ambassadors.”
In 2016, that re-invention of creative flair has showed no signs of slowing down, with Chanel’s 2017 Spring/Summer Ready-to-Wear collection showcasing an exciting range of playful colours and structured pieces in an innovatively creative runway show, all while retaining that ever-so-recognisable Chanel charm.
The catwalk embraced the theme of computer technology, opening with models wearing futuristic white helmets — a combination that looked to have been inspired by Daft Punk and Star Wars. Along with the helmets were gloves and boots to match, all while donning classic suits. Lagerfeld’s runway concept brought together original pieces that remain timeless, even within a modern backdrop.
Lagerfeld’s catwalk shows are not the only thing that has generated intrigue; the addition of famous faces has also contributed greatly. Woman of the moment Kristen Stewart has proven herself to be quite a success since becoming the face of Chanel clothing, as well as eyewear and beauty range projects. The addition of Stewart has been a mutual success, with Chanel retaining a fresh-faced image, while Stewart has silenced red carpet critics and found her style with the likes of androgynous suits, bringing with it a cool attitude to match.
“Chanel is looking to retain its bold, modern image while broadening its appeal beyond the confines of the older, sophisticated woman.”
With the appointment of young Hollywood royalty Lily-Rose Depp and Willow Smith as new faces, Chanel is looking to retain its bold, modern image while broadening its appeal beyond the confines of the older, sophisticated woman.
Chanel as we know it has come a long way from its Parisian hat-selling beginnings. Ultimately, it is down to Karl Lagerfeld and his creative vision for the journey it has been on to become the global empire it is today. The 2017 Spring/Summer collections retain an abundance of vibrant imagination, continuing to win over fashion critics and fans of the brand while ensuring that the modern era of Chanel is its most exciting yet.