Nothing is ever as it seems at a Chanel show. Viewers are so accustomed to surprise and spectacle that yesterday morning when the collection simply went down the runway, everything felt off-kilter. Then, just as the audience prepared to leave, the sounds of chanting came from backstage. Clutching branded speakerphones and holding aloft tongue-in-cheek placards sloganed with “Feminist but feminine”, and “Ladies first”, Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel-clad children of the revolution – including Charlotte Free, Georgia May Jagger and Cara Delevingne – marched down the Boulevard Chanel. Roaming photographers leapt from the sidelines to capture the action. Lagerfeld has always spoken about the girl on the streets – even putting trainers in his couture shows – and it seemed this collection was tapping into the empowered spirit of young women now.
I predict a riot:
France’s history is heavily grounded in the revolutionary and riotous, from the events of the late 1700s to the student protest movement of May 1968 and even more recent unrest in Paris in 2005. Compared to the images these movements conjure up – beheadings and burning cars – Lagerfeld's protest admittedly felt more geared towards fun and frivolity. What it did express was that feminism has become fashionable: it’s no longer a dirty word. What remains to be seen is whether fashion’s ‘feminist’ displays – from American Apparel’s pubic hair adorned mannequins to Lagerfeld's chanting models – are based in any real desire for political change.
Models wore slouchy suits rendered in colourful tweed, and super saturated washed out watercolour prints appeared on everything from boots to blouses. Small evening bags were typographic, declaring “5 + 5 = (interlocking CCs)” and echoed the girl power theme, with “Ladies first” appearing on one. Fabric satchel bags adorned with flower power appliques were a festival girl’s dream.