Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chanel Takes Salzburg

Fashion events are a lot like buses (bear with me): you wait around for one and nothing, then three suddenly come along at once. This week saw a 36-hour window comprising a trio of major fashion highlights; the British Fashion Awards in London, Chanel's Metiers d'Art show in Salzburg, Austria, and then back to London again for the Victoria's Secret shebang. Fashion insiders had steam coming out of their agendas - unless of course you're Cara Delevingne who managed to flit between a Chanel fitting in Salzburg and London's BFAs before heading back to Chanel again to close the show (albeit with the help of a private jet and, yes, unparalleled stamina). For the rest of us, it was divide and conquer. And so to Salzburg for Chanel's Metiers d'Art.

Austria was dear to Gabrielle Chanel's heart. The now iconic Chanel jacket came about after she clocked the lift boy's uniform at Salzburg's Mittersill hotel (owned by the dashing Austrian aristocrat, Baron von Pantz, with whom she once enjoyed a romance). This chapter in Chanel's history was a tale that came to life last night at the exclusive screening of Reincarnation, a short film by Karl Lagerfeld starring Pharrell Williams as the liftboy, and Cara Delevingne as the legendary, and ill-fated, Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
Karl Lagerfeld
A brief history lesson in 19th-century Austrian nobility: the empress, fondly known as Sissi, was a Bavarian princess with a 19in waist and was the most celebrated beauty of her time, marrying Franz Joseph of Austria at the tender age of 16.

The combination of the Chanel jacket, fused with the frills and spills of regal dress meant show goers were in for a treat. Guests meandered up the grand marble staircase of the imposing Schloss Leopoldskron, and were divided into various rooms, each as opulent as the next, boasting circular tables brimming with candlelit buffets of fruit and Austrian delicacies.
Chanel Goes Austria
Lara Stone opened the show in a black skirt suit trimmed in jingling trinkets and charms. Forest green frock coats followed, decorated in swirling frogging and were buttoned up over courtly ruffled blouses. Feathers sprouted, densely trimming jackets, or were embroidered alongside butterflies onto beribboned sheer silk gowns. There were tweedy-looking knits with whip-stitch trims, suede plus-fours, and wide-legged tuxedo trousers. Accessories were also a hit, from the patent lace-up boots and sensible suede loafers, to the black velvet chokers twinkling in diamanté or festooned in clusters of lustrous pearls, and, always, the occasional quirk - like a pretzel-shaped brooch pinned to a lapel.

For the most part, everything felt outdoorsy; these were clothes to go hunting in, wear in the countryside and to town, to lunch, to parties. It was one of the most commercial collections Lagerfeld has shown for his Metier d'Art series, which was no bad thing - because what a pity it would be for these pieces not to enjoy a life outside of these rather majestic realms.

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