Changing the Chanel: Resort 2014
After a long, hot May Sunday of hiking in the Hills and doing typical L.A. maintenance stuff like having the car washed and manscaping the boyfriend, I repaired to the cool, cavernous King King on Hollywood Boulevard for my super-talented friend Terry Beeman’s aerial cabaret show “Mental Head Circus”, dragging the newly trimmed Scott with me. It was a different crowd that I was accustomed to at King King, which was normally kind of Hipster-Goth cool. This time, we sat near a party of ten that looked like an odd mix of an Orange County bachelorette party and chubby guys from the Teamsters Union and a couple of tables of gay guys. All in all, it’s nice that the show has an expanding appeal even though I’m not sure they all knew what they were in for. I’ll bet they had fun, though.
I was expecting a darkly beautiful experience that would look back to Vaudeville and music hall traditions of the past, punctuated with the strikingly modern dance of Terry’s vision. It’s usually a marathon of incredible grace with flashes of sly humor and intentional awkwardness that are really affecting and this evening was exactly on cue.
I’ve seen the show a few times before but there were so many new numbers and a different cast of incredible performers that it seemed entirely fresh. The costumes are cooler and the vibe has moved from “Steampunk” Victoriana to the Roaring Twenties, which serves the vocalist especially well. The contortionist number freaked me out a little but then I’m just one of those people who doesn’t like heights or people who can wrap their knee around their neck. The tall, dark guy who looked gorgeous even wearing a clown nose made up for that, though. After the show, he introduced himself as Angel and, I have to say, the name suits him perfectly. If you missed this one and you’re in town on June 16th, go! Angel will probably be there, too.
Now, you may know that I usually find Chanel’s main collections for spring/summer and fall/winter ready-to-wear pretty disappointing. That’s probably a daring statement for me to make but I’m so far outside the incestuous circle jerk of the fawning fashion press that I don’t really give a shit. While I’m at it, I also usually hate what Lagerfeld does at Fendi, and I haven’t even dared venture into the territory of the Karl Lagerfeld label for fear of what I might encounter.
It’s an interesting twist, then, that I’m often completely enchanted by two collections that he creates for Chanel: the Métiers d’Arts collection shown in place of other houses’ pre-fall and his cruise collections for Chanel, one of which showed a few of days ago in the improbable locale of Singapore.
Early December’s gorgeous Scottish-inspired Métiers d’Arts show was staged at medieval Linlithgow Palace outside Edinburgh and that seemed a bit of a trek but it’s nothing compared to sending the top-ranked models and hair and makeup artists all the way to Singapore for a runway show in what looks like a dilapidated abandoned factory. Lagerfeld’s inspiration from a photo of a Singaporean fisherman from the 1880s wearing something that bore a startling resemblance to Chanel’s signature jacket helped connect the dots, but if they were able to create a stunning “neoclassical” forest in Paris’ Grand Palais just for the Spring Couture show, I’m sure they could have done something vaguely Asian closer to town, too.
I was wondering how fashion editors from around the globe justified flying to Southeast Asia to see a single collection but given the wonders of modern technology, they probably didn’t. The audience appears populated by locals who viewed the clothes exclusively through their smart phone cameras rather than looking at the ensembles directly in front of them.
All that aside, the collection was crisp and lovely, opening with flowing wide trousers followed by a rather literal cricket reference with great V-neck sweaters and bats and shin guards. Those simple boxy interpretations of the Chanel/Singapore fisherman’s jacket worked great with the silhouettes and are a welcome reinterpretation of a classic that was growing tired. Another interesting addition was a long pencil skirt with longer panels at the sides and back that was cool without being kooky.
Of course, there was a lot of navy, looking impeccable paired with ivory, and some great blue tones that were almost denim-like but totally different from the chambrays in the Versailles-inspired 2013 Resort collection. Prints included some Batik-like patterns and some gorgeous black and white geometric beadwork.
Styling was classic Chanel with yards upon yards of pearls but the soundtrack was genius, mixing the mambo hits of Yma Sumac with Surf Guitar. I have to hand it to Herr Lagerfeld; when he gets it right, that shit is right!
[heading]Full Video of the Collection:[/heading]