Spring Summer 2019 Haute Couture

This season, the Grand Palais transforms into the vast Mediterranean garden of a big, beautiful house. A pool of water is surrounded by trees and plants in harmonious neat lines. Pathways are almost “à la française,” like 18th-century gardens. Indeed, this period—the favorite of Karl Lagerfeld—has inspired him and, in particular, the talents of the marchands-merciers and the savoir-faire of the artisans of French luxury. Among the artistic themes of that century, flowers play a central role. Now, they are at the heart of the CHANEL Spring-Summer 2019 Haute Couture Collection, embroidered, painted, in lace, in feathers, in resin and even in ceramic. They explode in bouquets of pastel pink, prairie green and sky blue, and in splashes of black, white, beige, navy blue, iridescent gold and silver.

Two types of silhouettes stand out. The first is long and slender: the head held high above wide boat necklines and supported by shoulders split with a highly graphic, hollow fold that is both slightly rounded and pointed. Following the line of the body, lengths run mid calf. The second silhouette is more flowy, with voluminous bell and corolla shapes, full skirts and busts enveloped with straight or balloon sleeves. Sometimes, the fullness of a bust crosses the tubular line of a skirt or trousers, and vice versa. Like a central theme, one construction detail appears every time: a collar or panel of a dress turned inside out, or a rounded fold adorning a jacket, skirt or neckline, creating a trompe-l’oeil effect and new volumes.

Spring Summer 2019 Haute Couture

The dresses and suits are very refined. On shouldered jackets with boat necklines and mid-calf, zip-up skirts—or wraparound skirts cut to the knee—the braid quite literally melts into the fabric. Embroidered into the tweed, lamé wool or grain de poudre, the braid further amplifies the pure line of what Karl Lagerfeld is calling “the new CHANEL.” Various jackets are elongated like tunics, while others with a geometric or asymmetric folded lapel, in place of a collar, adopt a double row of buttons. Some jackets, belted high, are extended from a peplum or, conversely, shortened like Spencer jackets or aged-leather jackets, occasionally warmed with feathers.

On the dresses, reversed collars give the impression of a bolero. Here, the braiding highlights the hyper-graphic structure of the silhouette. The reversed pleat reappears on the bust and hem of dresses with big bell skirts in matte satin. Pulled to the waist and opening like petals at the front or over the hips, the skirts are lined with a second color embellished with floral seedlings. Other dresses in sequined silk faille are adorned with a lateral train that is inversed, flounced in lace and raised to the waist. A big dress with a hand-painted pink lace skirt has balloon sleeves finished with flat bows and ruffles cut into the serrated edge of the lace. Another in hand-painted blue lace is embroidered with ribbons laid like stripes. A flounced godet lengthens a skirt worn with a peplum top. The skirt of a crêpe lamé suit is embellished with a burst of torn tulle.

In tune with the frivolity of 18th-century style, the “lingerie” dresses in white pleated chiffon are interspersed with ennobled lace, ruffles and ladder lace. A dress in pleated chiffon slit with entredeux lace is worn with a very structured leather jacket for a contrasting, ultra-graphic silhouette. For a similar effect, a sequined tweed skirt is coupled with a little cape embroidered with feathers and fastened at the neck with a leather bow.

Here, the ateliers reveal the treasures resulting from such patience and savoir-faire. On these dresses, every horizontal blind tuck is completed by hand, taking up to 350 hours of work. On one organza dress embroidered with flowers made from feathers, the organ pleats that animate the ruffles are gathered thread by thread. The smocked lozenges of a silk blouse are sewn by hand and held in place by 650 beads. A black leather dress cut in spirals is aerated by ladder lace. An entirely sequined white suit, embroidered with patterns inspired by Manufacture de Vincennes porcelain, is a veritable work of art. An organza dress with a bolero effect is embroidered with real flowers immortalized in resin. Finally, a long green sequined dress is embroidered with hand-painted ceramic flowers.

The bride breaks all the rules. Beneath a silver sequined white veil, she steps out in a bathing suit, embroidered swimming hat and braided crêpe de Chine robe.

The CHANEL Spring-Summer 2019 Haute Couture show was applauded by the ambassadors Kristen Stewart, Pharrell Williams, Tilda Swinton, Marine Vacth, Anna Mouglalis, Alma Jodorowsky and Caroline de Maigret, as well as the director Sofia Coppola, the actresses Tessa Thompson, Marion Cotillard and Carole Bouquet and the singer Chris.

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FWO