For his latest Metiers d’Art collection for Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld offered us a new Parisian dream. As usual, his vision was a spot-on reflection of the times: Gone is the city many of us imagined before the tragedy of November 13, all pink roses and café au lait. In the wake of the attacks, this dream feels inappropriate. Instead Lagerfeld had his models, with their tousled hair and heavy eyeliner, stomp down a dark Parisian street straight out of film noir (ironically, it all went down in Rome). An eerie metro stop let out near a lone gazebo, while a dark café and corner bar cast shadows across the “avenues”. It was beautiful, yes, but also tough. The air in Lagerfeld’s Paris smelled not of blissful naiveté, but of survival with a whiff of Chanel No. 5.
The collection- one of Lagerfeld’s best yet- continued the narrative. Whereas Resort 2015 was a lesson in splashy colors, Metiers d’Art had a moody palette of mostly black, grey, and white, with smoky oranges and dusky pinks mixed in. All the Chanel signatures were there, including sumptuous tweeds and swaths of ornate jewelry. It feels silly to call the Metiers d’Art character a “girl,” because she was so obviously a woman. These were the outfits of a woman who is playful (see: the ruffles and “camera” bags), but with a don’t-mess edge. She is aware of her allure and embraces it, teasing onlookers with sheer panels and lace tights.
The Metiers d’Art collection marks an important turning point. After weeks of international mourning, the team at Chanel has taken the first step towards moving on. In presenting Paris, a city currently at the center of the recent tragedy, as a shadowy but also beautiful and unbroken offers hope for the future. More than that, it proves that the future exists. While the threat of terrorism may always exist, the power of this collection shows that we can don our tweed jackets, wrap ourselves in costume jewelry, and enter the world with out heads held high- no matter how dark the streets are. This sense of courage is something we all needed reminding of, and Chanel did it beautifully.
So merci, Karl, for letting us dream again.