Chanel evokes 19th century in spring couture show

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

PARIS (AP) — One palace, 90 oak trees and more than 3,000 bushes is the kind of luxury that spells only one thing: Chanel haute couture.

The natural landscape framed a spring-summer 2013 show Tuesday in which designer Karl Lagerfeld put a contemporary, floral spin on the dropped shoulders of the 19th century France's Second Empire.

Revelers shivered as they entered near-freezing glen inside Paris Grand Palais. But for the upbeat Lagerfeld, the season was one of optimism.

"It's not cold, it's just fresh. Spring is in the air," he told The Associated Press among the bushes following the show.

Models with 19th century-style feathers cascading from their hair sported 69 looks in silk, lace and tulle.

Dropped-square shoulders defined the aesthetic. They mirrored the style popular in the salons under Emperor Napoleon III — and sleeves were separated at the top to evoke an aristocratic glove.

But 1870s France was only a pit-stop in a show that featured glistening Asiatic-style silks with floral embroideries and contemporary voluminous shoulders — twinned with thigh-high boots that ranged from 1960's lace to futurist silver.

And with Chanel, there is always more than meets the eye. Here, that was found in the tweed — or the lack of it. All the skirt suits that resembled tweed were, in fact, fastidiously woven silk ribbons and lashings of braided tulle.

"Don't forget, this is haute couture," noted Lagerfeld.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at