Noughties Retrospective: The Best of Haute Couture, Pt. 1 - Chanel 2001
It only dawned on me a few weeks ago that we're coming to the end of a decade, those consecutive 10 years that are supposed to be marked by some common thread and fascinating highs and lows. Seems like such an obvious thing but sometimes I don't see the big picture, I'm too busy dissecting the minutiae of the things around me. What that common thread may be, I have no idea yet. Well, actually I did come up with something about how the internet/blogging/social media has revolutionised communication and created previously unattainable opportunities for us keyboard jockeys, but after a long paragraph on the subject I bored myself nearly to tears and so deleted it. I can see you nodding your head in agreement. And anyway, you can read that kind of thing a million other places and it will be a far better read.
Besides, what I really wanted to look at from the past decade - the 'noughties' - is the haute couture collections. The expert craftsmanship from the ateliers of Lesage, Lemarie, Michel, Desrues and Massaro - and the independent designers whose contributions go uncredited - are instrumental in making the creations of our biggest and best fashion houses the exquisite and extraordinary works of art that get our hearts all a flutter. It's the details that I live for and nothing gives the goods like haute couture.
Since documentation of the shows from 2000 are proving to be elusive I'm starting with 2001. And the first is Chanel. Throughout the past decade the beloved Paris fashion house continued to operate as a private entity owned by the Wertheimer family which means they warded off LVMH, Gucci Group, Richemont and Prada (though whether there was actually movement on that front I have no idea). Good for them, good for us.
I took screencaps from grainy video for both the winter and summer collections, it really was all I could find, and the summer is far better looking than the winter. The caps are far from crisp but I think it worked in the summer show with its dusty blue background - the images look rather painterly. I concentrated on the details such as the lushness of the textures all mixed together and of course, the accessories. And it was fun seeing the faces from 2001, the models who are mostly retired now except for Carmen Kass who has found a rare longevity in her runway career - or maybe it's mostly a willingness to get out there again and again?
The hair for winter was very Desperately Seeking Susan with the scrunchy bobs and bow hairbands, though I'm quite certain it wasn't a direct reference to the Madonna movie. I mean, come on.
At first I thought the summer show was held in one of the oval rooms of Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris where many of Monet's water lilies paintings are displayed - this was before the Grand Palais became the Chanel venue of choice - but the pillars that appear behind the seats don't exist, at least not in the renovated version I visited earlier this year. Anyone?