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Cultural Couture

Karl Lagerfeld has just released his new 2013 Spring Haute Couture collection for Chanel and it is nothing short of exceptional.

Noted for his flamboyant and theatrical shows, Lagerfeld certainly hasn’t dropped the ball in 2013, in fact he seems to have picked it up and started running. Set in a woodland scape there was an ambiance of the ethereal and secretive as models literally graced the Midsummer runway at Paris’ Grand Palais.

But it is not just the typically elaborate setting which is wagging tongues, but – as it should be – the collection itself. On first glance this could be any Chanel collection from over the years, with the archetypal shapeless and impeccably tailored suits, the odd frayed woollen edge and of course plenty of cropped jackets and beautifully cut dresses. But, this is not any who, what or when, this is, most definitely 2013 and Lagerfeld has clearly had his eyes and ears wide open to the world for his inspiration.

The collection’s classically ‘Chanel’ pieces are teemed with lacy, metallic and patent legs, heavily blacked eyes and feathery up dos, giving it an almost Gothic twist, and seemingly lifting elements from modern youth styles and translating them into the sophisticated poise that defines Chanel. This old meets new, elegant meets Emo is perhaps one of the more intelligent fashion collections of late, as it both aesthetically and successfully introduces two worlds with little in common. In an era which does not dignify the past, which discards the old with a feverish desire to pulse with the moment, it is refreshing to see one of fashion’s older hats (and perhaps it is with respect of his own age) bucking this profligate trend in what is a more than profligate medium.

The latter end of the collection maintains a link with the past, taking a leaf from the Edwardian style book with a long, straight cream lace dress with black ribboned halterneck:

Or perhaps this seamless combination of the Victorian full-bustled skirt and sleeves in a shimmering floral net, with a sleeveless black sequined bodice:

And this sexy, Burlesque mullet dress with full length leather boots still manages to pay homage to the late 19th Century with a modestly cropped cape in the colours:

There is little doubt of Lagerfeld’s status in the fashion world, but his attention to detail, his fabrics, cuts, colours and styling make this a notable and savvy collection. His subtle allusions to fashions past and present and his ability to combine them whilst maintaining the integrity of Chanel, affirms the German-born designer’s place at the top. This 2013 Haute Couture collection is not just a collection of beautiful clothes, but a collection which simultaneously breathes life into the old and dignifies the present with class, provocation and ultimately, thoughtfulness. Through fashion Lagerfeld reflects upon where we are and where we have been, but more than that his clothes intimate a fantasy where in a romantic, mythical future there exists the potential for a harmonious society whose past respects its present and vice versa.

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