Chanel, in 2015, must be the most prestigious label. Like it’s difficult not to like. Everybody enjoys Chanel designs, or do they? The brand confers a knowing to its wearers that most people will admire the simplicity and elegance of the luxury and design.
Certain aspects are idiosyncratic to Chanel: the tweed, the buttons, the flow of the lines, the well-defined neckline. Synonymous with immaculate, Chanel is always cut to flatter the figure, details are always the focus. For instance, the pleasure taken in the fabric. The Metier d’Art show draws attention to the craftsmanship that has gone into producing the finished item.
Firstly, there’s nothing too different about the designs. Immediately they’re recognisable as Chanel. The makeup -smoky black eyes- develops no shocks or surprises. The hair is ‘chic French actress’, a subtext in bringing Paris to Rome, the Rome of Fellini movies. The show was set in the studio the director used.
What seems different about this fashion show lies in the models. Who are they? Yes, we know their names or can find them out. But who are the characters that they play? Who are these swanky people strutting down a monochrome street? There is a certain level of characterisation present in the show so that it really leapt out. Every character tells a story. The entire performance is storytelling. Thinking about the story behind the production seems fitting when considering the artisans who have worked on the materials, which is why this show happened.
Why did the characters (a better description) seem to have a story or an identity? The answer to this is twofold and rests in the set. The set is a street scene. The set is in monochrome. The former creates a micro-world where we’re forced into observing that everything around us -from manhole covers to railings- has been designed and therefore contains a story. The latter strips bare the mind’s relation to colour, the regular consciousness that we all connect to immediately takes a back seat, therefore leaving the three dimensional clothes to ruminate in the observer’s cognition. The artificial monochrome street scene brings us closer to the immediacy that we’re faced with at every moment: all we can see has a story behind it. A hidden story our senses have more awareness of than we are ordinarily alerted to is omnipresent.
Getting over the surreality -the incongruity- of Paris in Rome with a map of Rome in designated Paris, one might ask why there is indeed a map as a central feature of the set. A map provides direction. In these contemporary times -let’s not say (pastmodernity, end times?)- the shades of grey give us unity to all other eras which may have access to the footage. Unable to speak to us – only through us – the Great Design of life that we turn to when faced with not knowingness we can think of as a map. It says, ‘Where are you? Where do you want to go? When you step out of this building, you’re in Rome. When you step out of this image, you were in Paris alongside me while I created the content from my design studio’.
Lastly, the lace arm stockings I liked very much. I went through a phase of wearing a black lace long-sleeved T-shirt under other black layers at the end of 2006. I also enjoyed the man in a skirt/trousers combination.
In the future world who can say whether people like Chanel? We are both surrounded and we are our surroundings. When I consider buildings and tones in not very deviating colour schemes, I wonder how much brighter and happier we would be if we painted the outside of our environment as freely as it shines in kohl defined eyes. Buildings in cities could be decorated like Rotterdam, a pastel fishing village, just bright with explosive colour.