Chanel's couture show today (5 July) signified a shift in the role of Karl Lagerfeld at head of the French label as the flamboyant creative director took a back seat and put the spotlight on the tireless, hardworking ateliers.
Rather than the expansive settings Lagerfeld had previously orchestrated at the Grand Palais, the scene was intimate and pleasantly voyeuristic as guests were invited to see the inner workings at one of the most luxurious fashion houses in the world.
Unfinished beaded panels of fabric were carefully pinned onto mannequins that were strewn about the reimagined atelier laden with reams of Chanel's iconic brocade fabrics and dressmaking accoutrements employed by the seamstresses of the house who were busy working on pieces as the audience meandered about the place.
Brand ambassadors Jessica Chastain and Willow Smith (with dad Will Smith in tow) joined the exclusive set of editors and couture buyers to take a first look at the collection as well as truly immerse themselves in the world of Chanel that exists behind the pearl adorned interlocking C's.
There has been speculation lately that 82-year-old Lagerfeld may step down as creative director of the iconic fashion house. Despite previous denials this may be the first sign that he could be preparing to relinquish some control including the unrelenting workload and hand over his legacy to the women inside the atelier he has worked so closely with for so long.
The show opened with an almost unrecognisable Edie Campbell who entered with a tight but deconstructed top knot made up of frizzy curls held back with a leather headband with the make-up of a romantic harlequin. Dressed in a neat tunic adorned in endless iridescent beads and feathers layered over neat silk culottes and ruched suede ankle boots, the ateliers carried on working as the models presented each piece to the audience.
The collection itself was another reminder as to why couture still holds such a special place in the hearts of the fashion industry and is still burning holes in the wallets of the elite customers who can afford the expensive price tags of garments that take hundreds of house to craft by hand.
The comprehensive 70-look collection moved through the traditional Chanel bouclé suiting and neat double-breasted jackets and wide tweed culottes into more dramatic angular designs. Feather shoulder panelling, golden brocade details and diaphanous silk panelled gowns were contrasted with heavily beaded empire line dresses.
The ruched knee-high boots that completed every look came in black or blush to match the standard-issue opera gloves worn by each model.
Rather than take his bow with godson Hudson Kroenig or the traditional 'bride' of the couture show, Karl Lagerfeld joined his team and collectively addressed the audience, embracing the women in a huddle as they smiled at the end of the show. A wonderful tribute of recognition for the team behind the brand and a knowing nod to those who will be still in place if he should ever step down.