Karl Lagerfeld does not know the meaning of the word simple, which is why the Chanel Spring 2016 Couture presentation was so surprising. In the past he has erected shopping centers, casinos and even an entire airport terminal, but yesterday a plain Zen garden with a minimalist wooden pavilion stood in the center of the Grand Palais. Grass and slatted planks made up the figure-eight runway and it was clear that this collection was going to be a unlike anything we’ve seen from him before.
“Everything is about ecology, but it’s never done in a very luxurious way,” Lagerfeld explained backstage. “I liked the idea to take ecology one step further and to make a high fashion, very elegant and very luxurious version of it.” Wood chips, straw, twine, raffia, cork and a number of natural fabrics like cotton, linen and organic woven yarn were transformed into recognizable Chanel designs. Wood was turned into beading and embroidered onto everything from suits to evening wear. Frills and collars were made with recycled paper and raffia.
The pieces on the runway were almost entirely neutral: black, white, cream and beige were the dominate shades of the collection, accented by a few splashes of navy and magenta. But things that may have seemed colorless and uncomplicated at first glance were actually incredibly detailed. Tweed jackets were laced in gold lamé, wood chips were layered over one another on a pencil skirt like scales, and crystals were pressed between embroidered wood to give dresses the faintest hint of a glimmer. It’s clear Lagerfeld still hasn’t learned the meaning of the word simple, but the collection was all the better for it.