Just as I was lamenting the ultra-safe Fall 2012 makeup collection from Chanel, there comes this gorgeous, gorgeous couture catwalk show that knocks everything else right out of the park. The stunning environs of Paris’ Grand Palais, white wicker furniture, a trompe l’oeil “tempest” ceiling mural, whitewashed Versailles pots “planted” with bushes of silk camellias, plates of miniature macaroons, a grand Art Nouveau staircase… all combined to evoke the atmosphere of an old-fashioned grand hotel. “I love the atmosphere of a Belle Époque tea room,” explained Karl Lagerfeld, “very Baden-Baden or Marienbad – but the difference is it was not last year!”
This witty reference to the 1961 film, Last Year at Marienbad, whose costumes were crafted by Coco Chanel herself, was Karl’s reiteration of the fact that he is living firmly in the present. There could be no better an introduction to the spirit of a collection that he dubbed “New Vintage”, reworking Chanel’s classics in a way that showcased the extraordinary handwork which the house’s ateliers are producing today.
What I look forward to every season is how Lagerfeld lifts out one single strand from Chanel’s history and uses it to weave an entire collection. For the Fall 2012 couture show, he took the glitter woven through Chanel’s tweed suits and worked it into everything from bias-cut jackets to sumptuous evening dresses. Except for one detail: The classic tweed was actually re-interpreted as embroidery on tulle. With the result that each of the pieces took hundreds and thousands of hours of handwork. Truly, this is couture in excelsis.
For evening, the great designer wove together shreds of chiffon, tulle and laser-cut fabrics into a living tapestry of airy sheath dresses scattered with three-dimensional gardenias and chunky jackets that would be a great cover-up for glacial nights (thank God! At least one designer is acknowledging that winter is a real season, with cold winds and chilly showers!).
My personal favourite, however, were the full-sleeved, black velvet gypsy-tiered dresses that were inspired by a model that Chanel made for herself in the 1940s, during the wartime years when she closed down her house. However, Karl tweaked the proportions and details to give even this dark drama a modern spin. As he said: New Vintage.
Backstage, Creative Director of Makeup Peter Philips worked his magic, creating a smoky grey eye with soft cheeks and nude pink lips to complement the black, gray and dusty pink theme of Karl’s couture creations.
Starting with a polished base (which he prepped with Chanel’s Hydra Beauty Serum, Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-light Skin Perfecting Makeup, Eclat Lumiere Highlighter Face Pen, Correcteur Perfection Long Lasting Concealer and Poudre Universelle Libre Natural Finish Loose Powder), he applied Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft-Touch Eyeshadow in Furtif ($28.50) all over the lid, taking it through the crease and lower lash line.
Then, he created a thick line along the lash lines with Chanel Stylo Yeux Long Lasting Eyeliner in Noir Intense and added multiple layers of Chanel Inimitable Mascara in Black ($30) and Chanel Kohl Liner in Clair ($28) on the inner rims to open up the eyes.
The cheeks were dusted with Chanel Joues Constraste Blush in Rose Initial (albeit “a bit higher than usual”; $43), a pretty rosy pink.
And those uber-gorgeous nails!
The pièce de résistance, however, was the bright pink french manicure. Philips took the idea of the classic French manicure and gave it a touch of “now”, in keeping with Lagerfeld’s “New Vintage”.
To create the look, Philips applied a chrome nail polish that was discontinued in 2007 (Essie’s No Place Like Chrome is a good alternative) on the entire nail and topped it with two coats of Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in May (from the Spring 2012 makeup collection). The result? A skinny crescent of chrome encircling the pink that looks simply gorgeous! I will definitely be trying this out this look, so stay tuned.