DIOR & CHANEL: BRINGING THE PAST INTO THE RUNWAY PRESENT

If you didn't have a ticket to the autumn/winter 2017 Christian Dior couture show this season, no matter: there's a pretty great and substantial Dior show going on all by itself at Les Arts Decoratifs right now to celebrate 70 years of the house that has come to define more than one moment in fashion. A wander through the archives, this could be more like twelve exhibitions in one: rejoice we do in a meaty fashion exhibition.


Dior Couture - Photo by Anna Palermo for NOWFASHION

On the catwalk today and surely that looming in the background was a pressure for Maria Grazia Chiuri, who has held the creative director role at the house for less than a year. It's a big job to take and it came with plenty of baggage; baggage that didn't just belong to Mr Dior but to the designers who have since inhabited his mantle. That's tough.

But in a collection that explored the idea apparently of travel, Chiuri did best when she essentially stayed at home for a series of  roomy tailoring that began the collection and harked back to Dior, the original. For those nipped in waists and splaying skirts or be they trousers. Both. This was the strongest set of the collection, which then by its very nature of being couture veered off into dress territory. Always nice, sure, one can't go wrong with creating something with red carpet appeal - but by comparison to that opening lot which felt modern and fresh against a backdrop of traditional couture frou one encounters across the rest of the week, staying closer to home proved to be the winner after all. [JB]


Dior Couture - Photo by Anna Palermo for NOWFASHION

Earlier today, Karl Lagerfeld did yet another runway show within breathtaking scenery at Paris' Grand Palais. This time around, Mr Lagerfeld was in a decisively French mood and opted for a partially reconstructed Eiffel Tower – let's call it Chanel Tower – which was raised under the dome of the show's venue and kept the audience's eyes peeled for more. 

And it was not only the setting that was very parisien. The invitation to Chanel's Haute Couture show gave us a taste of things to come, as it was embellished by a print of "The Eiffel Tower" painted in 1926 by Robert Delaunay. Delaunay, who cofounded the Orphism art movement in Paris before moving to abstract art, was notable for his use of urban and geometric references throughout his work – and Mr Lagerfeld's collection was all about the early 20th century, urban yet chic Parisienne


Chanel Couture - Photo by Valerio Mezzanotti for NOWFASHION

Collection-wise, after a retro-future flavored ready-to-wear showcase earlier that year, Karl Lagerfeld went back to basics for Chanel Haute Couture. His main inspiration for this Fall/Winter 2017 collection was Gabrielle Chanel herself – her most iconic style characteristics were reinterpreted during today's runway show. In fact, the French maison killed two birds with one stone by celebrating the maison's iconic founder not only with this latest Haute Couture offering, but with a new fragrance launched today and named after the famous Mademoiselle.  

The many tweed numbers seen on the runway of the Grand Palais were focused on style, not trends, offering the simplicity, elegance, and comfort that Chanel is reputed for, mostly in the maison's signature menswear flavored tailoring and lot of accessories and embellishments, including Gabrielle Chanel's revisited boater hats, pearl necklaces, and XXL pearl earrings. 

More notably, Chanel's famous little black dress, which became a wardrobe staple in 1926 – the same year Delaunay painted the Eiffel Tower, coincidence? – was also reinterpreted in various feminine evening numbers. Two emblems of the French maison – the frequently recurring camellia flower pattern twisted in a vernacular Sonia Delaunay-way and a maxi-ribbon pattern – were building the guiding thread of this collection and could be spotted as details on sleeves and shoulders and inspired the voluminous construction of peplums and eclectic surface adornments of this beautiful Haute Couture offering. [ET]


Chanel Couture - Photo by Valerio Mezzanotti for NOWFASHION