Lagerfeld has the kind of inquisitive, analytical mind that can seize on a single notion and explore it in a multitude of incarnations.
Some of Karl Lagerfeld's best Chanel collections come when he explores a single, abstract idea through to its logical conclusion. Lagerfeld has the kind of inquisitive, analytical mind that can seize on a single notion, strip it down to the barest bones and then explore it in a multitude of incarnations.
For Autumn/Winter 2012 Lagerfeld alighted on crystals, and the abstract idea of iridescence. As always, it loomed large as the stage set. Last season we went twenty thousand leagues under the sea, this time it was Voyage au centre de la Terre: the Grand Palais a magical cave, crushed mineral forming the catwalk alongside great hulks of glowing quartz, both real and fake. Coco Kryptonite? Maybe - Chanel definitely has some uncharted affect on the strength of consumers the world over, causing them to wilt and succumb to its charms with the greatest of ease.
And so, to product. Lagerfeld has a couture show for flights of fantasy, and despite the overarching and occasionally overpowering themes of his ready-to-wear, we always end up with a blitzkrieg of luxury goods to pick and choose from. The beauty of a Chanel show is that everyone will find their own favourite pieces: the transparent skirts layered over leggings striped with glistening sequins, for example, the lurex-flecked tweeds or the cock-feather embroideries washed with colour and edging coats. The general line for coats was cocooning and oversized, a touch of survival gear to its capacious volume. Trousers were slim and cropped above the ankle, and every model wore the same pair of half-shoe half-boot footwear with a cluster of mineral glitter around a chunky perspex heel that seemed to vanish in the light. Easy to imagine everyone buying those. The rest was a grab-bag of variety, of sparkling knitwear juxtaposed with coats appliquéd with metallic leather or faceted like rock crystals. Le rock, c'est chic. At least for Monsieur Lagerfeld.
You may have seen a hint of eighties in those oversized coats, the wider shoulders and the sparkling, plasticised surfaces of all those metallic fabrics. But for Lagerfeld they were pure exercises in form, the exorcism of an idea, the crystallisation (pardon the pun) of the motif Lagerfeld has latched onto. They don't always gel together perfectly. There were a few clunky moments in this one, odd proportions and slightly dodgy decorative effects that followed the idea of glassy gleam into Glam Rock territory.
Usually, however, Lagerfeld's Chanel road bisects somewhere with how the rest of the fashion world is feeling. That's where the mass take-away, and editorial-ready pieces, can be found. In this case, those coats link with the season's slouchy, oversized overtones of great outerwear that sits somewhere between an officer's greatcoat and a bath-robe. The embellishment is indicative of a move towards dressing up, while trousers are the practical solution every woman has been hankering after (especially next to the deluge of cocktail frocks promised come October). That will be the take-away from this Chanel collection. And any one of those pieces could become an instant wardrobe classic.