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Chanel SS17Photography Evan Schreiber

Exploring the meaning behind Chanel’s tech revolution

Yesterday saw a convergence of tech and fashion – but what was Karl Lagerfeld trying to say through the Chanel-bots, circuitry tweeds and wire prints?

Inside the Grand Palais, Chanel constructed what perhaps was the most obtuse set it has done in recent memory. Banks upon banks of data servers lined the runway with their blinking lights, Ethernet cables and screens scrolling with illegible text. This was the Data Centre Chanel. For the ultra nerds in the audience, it was hard not to recall an episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley, where the central characters of young tech entrepreneurs are dismayed to find that their invention is destined to become a data box, sitting on the rack inside a soulless data farm in the middle of nowhere. They subsequently get lost in the myriad of aisles holding and hosting the world’s information.  

Karl Lagerfeld may have been specific when choosing this very unglamorous side to the way our technology functions. Perhaps it’s a dystopian future that he was trying to confront, where eventually (or perhaps even presently) our entire lives will exist within these blinking boxes. Against this backdrop then, he presented his own “Intimate Technology”, which was infinitely more upbeat than the goings-on of a data centre.

“Perhaps it’s a dystopian future that Lagerfeld was trying to confront, where eventually (or perhaps even presently) our entire lives will exist within these blinking boxes”

Two Chanel-bots in monochrome tweed suits, looking a lot like a chic version of Yuko the robot from Netflix hit Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, walked the runway like guardians of these data servers. Then came the real innovation, embedded into the tech-y tweeds which crafted so that the patternation of the weave resembled circuitry and coding in the brightest of colours. The suits felt swift as the skirts came with a kicky front split and the jackets were worn on the shoulders, often with a sports cap turned to the side (perhaps a nod to the casual attire of Silicon Valley dudes?). Wiring was tranformed into electric neon lit prints, as were abstract interpretations of data on the move. When Lagerfeld was talking about intimacy, he meant it quite literally with the peeks of lace-edged slips and lingerie nods running throughout the collection – their delicacy and lightness were a stark contrast to the solid blinking boxes in the background.

Perhaps Lagerfeld was also using this data centre set device as a way of making another point. The consistency in the designer’s output remains somewhat timeless, even if he does glitch up the tweed or pixelate the warp and weft. Even the soundtrack of Donna Air’s “I Feel Love” hasn’t lost its appeal after all these years. The supposedly “frenetic” pace of the fashion industry appears slow in comparison to how gadgets become instantly redundant upon release and how apps and OS’s are constantly tweaked and updated. The conversion of tech and fashion has perhaps been one of the biggest shake-ups to this industry in the way that things are communicated as well as the way they’re made. There are still many paths to embark on though to really galvanise the industry, but some things like a Chanel tweed suit perhaps demand that level of change.