Chanel’s Spring-Summer 2018 couture line is all about happiness.
Ever since France’s presidential election in 2017, the country is going through an unprecedented period of unguarded optimism. The election of the dashing and very young Emmanuel Macron (he just turned 40) to the country’s top post has suddenly made France unabashedly cool – the way Britain was the epitome of cool when Tony Blair was prime minister, from 1997 to 2007.
This colourful wave of happiness has found its way onto the Paris runways, most notably in Karl Lagerfeld’s Spring-Summer 2018 couture collection for Chanel. To reflect this blissful mood, Lagerfeld chose to stage his show in a garden inside the Grand Palais, complete with fountains and sandy paths. In this idyllic setting, he showcased light, ephemeral dresses for the sunny season, in silhouettes that ranged from slim and narrow to wide and voluminous. In addition to the dresses, there were A-shaped jackets, tulip-shaped skirts in rose satin and a striking silver jumpsuit that managed to somehow feel both retro and futuristic.
The colour palette tended mainly towards pastels, with a few dashing numbers in shiny metallics, in materials that included tweeds and chiffons. Floral patterns dominated the runway, mostly in soft pink with occasional explosions of vibrant colours.
Chanel’s signature boucle suits were featured as well, of course, and in the show’s opening. This time around though, they came with exaggerated shoulders and a cropped fit, in a reinterpretation of the classic Chanel suit that would have pleased Gabrielle Chanel herself.
In recent years, Lagerfeld has been rejuvenating the Chanel label to appeal to a younger demographic. Millennials (roughly those between 18 and 34 years of age) provide one of fashion’s most lucrative markets, and to capture this market, Lagerfeld has given Chanel’s clothes and accessories a more youthful twist, while successfully integrating digital strategies to evolve into store sales. But with Chanel’s Spring-Summer 2018 couture collection, Lagerfeld also showed that he hadn’t forgotten Chanel’s core clientele, the women who have been loyal to the brand for years and who appreciate the French brand’s timeless feel.
Yet perhaps what’s most incredible about Chanel’s Spring-Summer 2018 couture collection is the creative director himself. At 84, Lagerfeld still has his pulse on the global fashion beat, and he seems to instinctively know what women want, season after season, while always staying true to Chanel’s legendary style.
Featured image: HAUTE COUTURE PRINTEMPS-ÉTÉ 2018, Accessoires: Studio 12– Paris Coiffure réalisée par: Sam McKnight Maquillage: Chanel. Sound-Stylist: Michel Gaubert. Photos © 2018 by Karl Lagerfeld. Chanel – Photo Karl Lagerfeld .
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, pages 202-205.