We need to talk about what Karl Lagerfeld just did.
As Paris’ Couture Fashion Week rolls around for another year the fashion world waited with bated breath for the spectacular runway that Chanel would surely produce to rival their previous shows. Shows that have been innovative and groundbreaking not only in the garments sashaying down the runway but also in the insane staging of the shows. Models shopping a Chanel grocery store, a replica of the streets of Paris, a Chanel casino with gambling models, what on earth would Karl The Wonderful do next? Would it be an airplane hanger with Chanel fighter pilots? A zoo full of Chanel giraffes?
Whilst, admittedly, there were actually several Chanel giraffes present in the Paris Couture Fashion Week show in the form of 6’4″ supermodels, this show was no zoo. King Karl did the unthinkable and paid massive homage to his ateliers. Not only was the runway set up to replicate an actual working studio with mannequins, bolts of fabric and women working away with measuring tapes draped around their necks, he also took his final walk WITH HIS ATELIERS! His seamsstresses! The talented (and, no doubt exhausted) women working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring his designs to life. The women who’s fingers bleed and who spend upwards of a hundred hours meticulously hand appliquéing organza petals to a Chanel skirt that will be seen on the runway for all of 45 seconds. It literally brought a tear to my eye.
Last year I watched the documentary ‘Dior and I’ which followed Raf Simons, previously of Jil Sanders fame, as he released his first collection at the helm of the Dior label. (Side note: the doco is sensational and defs worth a watch.) The collection was stellar, obviously, and Raf was praised for his efforts but one thing really irked me about the whole film, and that was that the ateliers never got a shout out. They were the ones spending upwards of twelve hours a day sewing, they were the ones that had to deal with the wrath of Raf, and they then after their months of sleepless night and hard work they had to watch the whole show backstage and watch Wrathy Raf take the bow at the finale.
Now, this is not to say that Raf, Karl and the like don’t deserve credit, because they absolutely do. They’ve done their time and paid their dues and deserve all the praise that comes their way, yet I can’t help but feel that those worker bee’s deserve some of that love. Without them there would be no Chanel, or Dior, or Givenchy. And I’m willing to bet that Karl wouldn’t be one to jump behind a sewing machine and quickly whip up a bouclé jacket.
So when King Karl walked out with four of his ateliers in tow (all sporting Chanel sewing pouches of course) and let them take a bow and soak up the applause that they so much deserved I literally cheered out loud. This is a moment that will go down in history and I hope more fashion houses follow suit and give credit where credit is due.
High five Karl, you bloody legend.
Head over here to see all of the looks from show. Full video will be posted soon!
Now, where I can I get my hands on one of those sewing pouches..