And like the triumphant hero returning home, Karl Lagerfeld went back to his roots; back to the port city of Hamburg where he presented his finest collection in recent memory. This season’s Pre-Fall 2018 Chanel Métiers d’Art was anchored deeply in seafaring tradition and the seductive light-hearted rebellion of the swinging 60’s, resulting in a collection any girl would kill to wear.
But why did Lagerfeld choose to return back to the town on the River Elbe? Was it sentiment which brought him back? Of course not – Lagerfeld has never been one for nostalgia. It was the brand new Elbphilharmonie designed by Herzog & De Meuron which persuaded Lagerfeld to sail home to Hamburg. Although having spectacularly run millions of euros over-budget, the building has since its inauguration in January 2017 become a cultural icon so grand that it triggered Hamburg to be the cover star of national news-magazine Der Spiegel which hailed the city as the new capital of Germany. Rest assured, the Elbphilharmonie was a non-nostalgic venue and very much appealed to Lagerfeld’s forward-thinking taste.
As the melody of La Paloma began to fill the auditorium, thanks to an orchestra led by Oliver Coates, the models began their decent. Immediately, the spirit of Hamburg je ne sais quoi overwhelms and captivates.
The collection featured 1960s beatniks dressed in chunky cable-knit sweater dresses, pea coats, and sailor pants, radiating an attitude of classic cool – equally respectful to both Coco Chanel’s heritage and the fearless nature of today’s modern woman. There were sheer blouses and black leather, provocative strapless dresses embellished with tufts of jet coq feathers and, aligning with the current trend, racy stripes running down the side of black crepe tuxedo trousers. Male models puffed long-stemmed pipes. And then there were those Maison Michel- made nautical tweed caps worn on the head of every model in the show. The sailor cap, along with scores of references, famously referred to The Beatles as in the 1960’s The Beatles played hundreds of gigs in the infamous Reeperbahn red-light district in Hamburg. It was then when John Lennon started wearing sailor caps, inspired by locals. “I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg,” Lennon once said.
Overall, the collection was minimal but powerful, reflecting Lagerfeld’s sentiments on his hometown: “Hamburg was always kind of discreet,” Lagerfeld stated, “never a red carpet city. They’re humble people who never showed how rich they were.”
What separates this collection to other brands’ pre-collections is that the Métiers d’Art celebrates the craftsmanship produced by Chanel-owned luxury artisan-specialist companies including Maison Michel (millinery), Barrie (Scottish cashmere), Goossens (jewellery), and Lesage (embroidery). The simplicity of the seafaring roots brilliantly showcased the meticulous craftsmanship of such maisons – exceptional details showcased in an exceptional venue.
However despite the extraordinary architecture, the orchestra, the star-studded front row… the plain fact remains: this homecoming collection ranks as one of Karl Lagerfeld’s best.