February 12, 2019 Long Live Chanel Long Live Chanel
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Long Live Chanel

A great heritage and a master like Kaiser Karl, heavenly bodies and faces and couture-like dresses: Chanel will always be beyond

By Alessandra Nava

Posted in

Millions of words were written, thousands of photos were taken, several biopics, documentaries and movies were produced… and all to examine, discuss, understand the mysterious and irresistible myth that surrounds Chanel, the maison de mode par excellence. The most amazing and surprising thing is how the fashion house is simultaneously always changing and always remaining the same, continuing to update in different ways the same vision of fashion.

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The brand’s relatively contemporary success and its consecration as a luxurious status quo and as a one-of-a-kind thing is for sure connected to its creative director, because since 1983 the equation Chanel = Karl Lagerfeld seems to work pretty well. The visionary fashion artist, who previously worked for Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Chloé, at the significant age of 50 decided to take control of the maison Chanel, and turnt it into a dream.

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Kaiser Karl studied Chanel archives and deeply absorbed Mademoiselle Coco’s fashion code to eventually interpret it in several different ways. It was a perfect communion between Lagerfeld’s wild creativity and Gabrielle’s clear vision of fashion, and the result was a series of collections in which all the iconic symbols of the brand were declined in new ways. Tailleurs, camellias, pearls, black and white, practical and relaxed lines, matelassé bags, chains,… this set of fashion rules was taken seriously -but not to much- and 80s and 90s collections, as well as today’s ones, are all about using this code in new fresh and funny ways. Naomi Campbell in the SS94 catwalk with a mini tweed dress with a big logo-chained belt, Claudia Schiffer in the SS96 show with a pink bikini and coordinated logo pink pants, Linda Evangelista that walked with an impeccable sequined jacket, shorts and a surfboard, smiling at the audience,… the Chanel woman reinvents herself any single time.

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The same happens today, when we admire Kaia Gerber walking sur la plage de Chanel with big logo earrings and a black and white shirt, or Lily Rose Depp advertising the makeup line’s lipglosses. That double C and that whole elegant world attract anybody.

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The same stylistic details are used in today’s collections. For instance, the logo-mania was highly anticipated by Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel herself, that put the double C over bags, bangles, necklaces, shoes… The same mini tweed tailleurs worn by Carla Bruni are now rocked by Kaia and Vittoria, and the small heart-shaped bags worn by Claudia and Helena Christensen on the 90s runways are even more exaggerated, coming in weird but cool sizes and shapes (a shuttle, a Chanel n°5 bottle, an egg box!).

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The same stylistic standard works for the fashion campaigns, interpreted by exceptional testimonials. The SS 90 campaign draws inspiration from artistic and cinematographic references, such as Manet’s paintings, or movies like Il giardino dei Finzi Continiand The Great Gatsby, and a huge cast rules by Helena and Claudia rocks the Chanel allure in a fancy big mansion with a swimming pool. In the SS 94 campaign, all the super top models are dressed in mini pastel shade tailleurs and embroidered hats and stomp fiercely towards the camera. In occasion of the FW 96 campaign Lagerfeld shot a very sophisticated campaign starring Guinevere van Seenus, portrayed in a multi-mirrored room, with a choice of chromatic shades and optical effects that reminded Hopper’s paintings or David Lynch’s sets. 

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Nowadays Karl keeps shooting Chanel campaigns, and captures his brand ambassadors, such as Gisele, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne… in front of a monochromatic background that underlines the beauty of the models and of the Chanel’s impeccable clothes and accessories.

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In the past, in the present, in the future, Chanel will always have that inexplicable allure that will define its inimitable style, a certain je ne sais quoi engraved in fashion and costume history, and it will never loose its eternal appeal.

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