In fashion, as in real life, there are four seasons: the obvious Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer, and then the pre-collections, aka “Pre-Fall” and “Resort”. Shown in between the two major seasons, the pre-collections have a reputation for being entirely commercial, with designs meant to attract customers on the selling floor rather then capture the imagination. Most designers play into this assumption, and very few go so far as to present these line ups on actual runways. Instead, houses such as Burberry and Sonia Rykiel (helmed by Christopher Bailey and Julie de Libran, respectively) release humorless photo books, creating minimal industry excitement.
But then there are designers like Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, who treat Resort and Pre-Fall like they would Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer. In Lagerfeld’s case, this involves taking the House of Chanel to a different city twice annually to stage a pre-collection runway extravaganza. The location of each show also serves as the initial inspiration behind the pieces themselves. Last winter, the pre-fall Metiers d’Art collection paid tribute to the storied heritage of Salzburg,Austria. For Resort 2016, however, Lagerfeld opted for an entirely different locale, one quite literally on the other side of the world: Seoul, South Korea.
As one might expect, the show, which took place last Monday, was a visual feast. It all went down at the post-modern Dongdaemun Design Plaza, where the otherwise all-white set was adorned with primary colored polka dots. The clothes themselves left nothing to be desired, eschewing the notion that pre-collections were for commercial appeal only. It was clear Lagerfeld toyed with different aspects of Korean culture, from the eye-crossing patterns and colors favored by the K-Pop set to the gentle shape of the traditional hanbok. There were also some Chanel signatures in the mix, with many a cropped black (albeit jewel-encrusted) jacket and tweed piece coming down the runway. (You can see my personal favorite looks below.)
Not surprisingly, Chanel’s latest venture was met with cheers from across the fashion sphere. Show-goers were generous with their praise, especially the native Koreans in the audience. One attendee, the K-Pop star G-Dragon, remarked “The styling was really Korean. They mixed a lot of elements of traditional Korean style with Chanel’s own identity…[and] I was so proud to see this as a Korean.” The reaction drawn from the general public was similarly enthusiastic, with fans everywhere sharing their excitement as the collection made the rounds on social media.
I myself adored this collection. Much like G-Dragon, I get a strange pleasure out of the irony of a house as revered as Chanel using the culture of a somewhat unexplored, decidedly less-posh city as an inspiration for a collection. I also applaud Karl Lagerfeld’s refusal to take the more accepted (not to mention budget-friendly) approach to Resort and Pre-Fall. Instead, he seizes the opportunity to put on a show, delivering some seriously fabulous fashion in the process. And no matter what your stance on the fashion industry is, you cannot help but admire that.
After all, it’s Karl’s world, and we all just live in it.
Pictures (unless otherwise cited) via Style.com
Quote via WWD.com
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