This year's Métiers d’Art fashion show was a meta-fantasy that only Chanel could have imagined or outfitted. They brought Paris to Roma, then rebuilt Paris IN Roma, creating a picture-perfect French street with boulangerie, cafes, Metro stops and theatre, within the confines of the film studio Cinecittà Roma – famously burned during the filming of Cleopatra, and more recently a home to Showtime's Rome.
The looks are said to be inspired by Elizabeth Taylor in Boom!, a late-60s Tennessee Williams-written film, shot in Sardinia, and full of elaborate headpieces and draped silhouettes. Chanel re-interpreted these ideas into the most wearable, transitional and comfortable (really, walkable shoes!) collection in years.
Métiers d’Art is a traveling show, built anew every year, to meld the flavor of that year's locale with the finest artisanal work that contributes to the Chanel brand. Dallas (the location in 2013) was heavy on fringe and boots. This year, it's the artifice and freedom of dressing on the sidewalk, a Parisian sidewalk, or rather, Lagerfeld's imagination of the quintessential Parisian sidewalk.
Two silhouettes seemed dominant: the capelet over a sheath and a boxier top over either wide legged, draped pants or narrow skirt. Hemlines covered 20th century lengths – from hobble skirts and walking dresses, through the bias cut, into full skirts and up to mid-thigh mini shifts.
Every look was worn with patterned and partitioned lace stockings, and every look was heavily embellished. Here's where the beauty of the Métiers d’Art show is – highlighting the many artisans and houses that create to the overall Chanel look. A confederation of ateliers whose time-honored skills – shoe-making, glove-making, feather-working –
among others, are preserved, promoted and shared.
Those interlocking C buttons that make the Chanel logo? They are just a few of the buttons, jewelry fine and
accessories that Desrues have made for the house, since their relationship began in the mid-'30s. This year's collection gleamed with cabochon buttons, ropes of pearls and fine chain, worn at all different lengths, all together.
Chanel's camellia was everywhere … sprinkled on skirts and capelets, small ones linked across sweaters and bodices, fluttering from the jackets the models wore tied around their waists. Lemarie has provided the camellias, other flowers, and feathers to the house and became a partner in Métiers d’Art in 1996.
The models walked the square of the meta-Paris, up from the Metro, up the stairs by the cafes, down the streets (featuring remarkably real rain puddles) and they did it in pearl wrapped gladiator sandals, toe-capped mules, flats and pumps. All lower heeled and demonstrably walkable. Massaro has been Chanel's partner in shoe-making since the owner created that cap-toed shoe in the 1950s, and they joined the Métiers d’Art in 2002.
Woven in and out of the heavy long coats that looked warm enough for a Paris winter, the long sleeve sweaters that dripped with beads, and swayed with each step, were sequins and beads, ribbons and embroidery. Montex, whose atelier is led by "embroider emeritus" Annie Trussart, was founded in 1939 and has worked closely with Karl Lagerfeld.
The Meta fantasy continued in Chanel borrowing it from itself through the decades, an homage, perhaps that was solidified in Lagerfeld's debut of "Once and Forever" which follows Mademoiselle Chanel (played by brand face Kristin Stewart) from the 1910s to the 1960s.
Black ribbons waved from around waists, black floppy ties adorned capes, shirts and dresses. There was edge too, in every choker, the sheer skirts and pants, and head to toe black quilted leather with lace.
The looks were alluring and feminine, but worn with rocker dark eyes and teased hair they didn't look too precious.
In fact, these clothes looked like they belonged on you and me.