A case of high couture blues

Once upon a time, Pablo Picasso went through a blue period. At first everyone thought his monochrome paintings were stupid and depressing and no one wanted to buy them. Then he died and everyone thought they were brilliant and, well, that’s because they are.

Meanwhile, another artist in Paris seems to be going through a blue phase all his own, although unlike poor Picasso there will be no doubting the mastery of his work. That’s because when it comes to Karl Lagerfeld, you take what he throws down the runway and you like it. This is Chanel we’re talking about. It’s sometimes outrageous. It’s always exquisite. And no matter how hard economic times actually get, people will always, always want it. But why?

When it comes to putting on a runway show, Karl Lagerfeld has set the bar sky high–literally. At the Chanel spring 2012 couture show, held this morning at the Grand Palais in Paris, the designer sent 61 looks down the aisle of an enormous jumbo jet he had built specifically to showcase this collection. The world’s top models–Arizona Muse, Saskia De Brauw and Kasia Struss–slipped on mod sheaths, ombre day suits and flowing gowns in 154 varying shades of blue, each look a sparkling attribute to those glamorous 1960s flight attendants you see in movies and stuff.

“I love the plane,” Lagerfeld told reporters. “There’s nothing I find more relaxing. Your neighbours are stuck to their screens, there are no phones — it’s blissfully peaceful.”

Except, kind of, it’s not.

In fact, I’d maybe go so far as to say that the plane–and the head ache that starts the second you step foot in an airport–is anything but peaceful. Granted, I’ve never flown first class and my last air travel experience left me stranded at LaGuardia (which, incidentally, specializes in misery) for an hour while it drizzled ever so slightly in Chicago. But there’s never enough legroom. There’s NEVER enough overhead compartment space. Complementary beverages these days consist of a plastic cup that’s 90% ice, 10% Diet Coke, and while browsing through Sky Mall is sometimes fun, I wouldn’t exactly call it a relaxing experience, especially when the guy in the middle seat gets up every five seconds to use the lavatory. It’s not peaceful, Mr. Lagerfeld. IT’S NOT PEACEFUL.

And yet, who wouldn’t kill for a trip on Air Chanel, hmm? Editors were more than a little miffed when they were told there was limited sitting at the event, meaning some of them would have to–gasp–not go. That’s part of Karl’s mastery, and certainly his appeal. He takes the everyday, the *shudder* commercial and transforms it into fashion that’s not just out of this world, it’s out of our league. Because let’s be real. You and I will probably never–NEVER–be in a position to wear couture Chanel, no matter how badly we admire those see-through pockets and ultra-dropped waistlines. We’ll probably never make it to the Grand Palais and sit front row and exclaim, like Diane Kruger, “pretty cool, right?” But we have been in airplanes before and even though we may detest the thought of flying, suddenly we have something in common with Karl and all those pretty models and celebrities. Fashion? We’re ready for it. It’s accessible.

But are we? What happens at the end of the day when Air Chanel lands and you realize you’re no closer to that world than you were yesterday? Sometimes I get so exhausted lusting after clothes I will never ever get my grubby little hands on, but then I think about Picasso and how I’ll never get my grubby little hands on any of his pieces either–blue period or not. But that doesn’t make them any less beautiful, does it? People will always flock to the Chicago Art Institute to see the “Blue Guitarist.” It’s something to behold. Something to think about, value and be inspired by. At least Mr. Lagerfeld–and all the other incredible creative minds showing at couture week–gets a chance to see that adoration played out. After all, isn’t fashion just art in real time?

Anyway. Check out the entire show here and, as always, prepare to be amazed.

[images via Style.com]

About Kathryn

Journalist, velvet enthusiast.
This entry was posted in Designers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A case of high couture blues

  1. Tanya says:

    Your commentaries are really thought provoking. I think part of Lagerfeld’s appeal is that he makes Chanel obviously exclusive, and of course, when there’s something that’s limited and exclusive, people tend to lust for it. I’m biting the hook though and will say that I’m one of those whose lusting for his creations. They’re beautiful no doubt.


  2. He definitely knows how to put in a good show. And the clothes are pretty fabulous too!

  3. JP says:

    He always keeps everyone wanting more, and he neve disapoints, true artist. I could not agree more!

    Jen (JP)

  4. Pingback: It’s a Karl Karl world | Kathryn à la mode

  5. For the love of juxtaposition, this post is a winner. Love the historical tidbits! FAB post. I’m a big fan of K.L., ever since seeing him at the launch of the holiday windows at Printemps in Paris For the love of drama, he’s still dashing after all these years. Picasso loved drama, too! Cheers! Theadora

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