Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2019

by Long Nguyen

The snow fell hard on a frozen Paris morning, but inside the Grand Palais, a real life replica of a sumptuous Southern Mediterranean summer villa set the vibe with palm trees, grass, and tropical shrubs. The greenery was placed in the center by a blue water swimming pool dubbed Villa Chanel. A relief to guests shaking off the wet snow from their fur coats. The marvelous garden installation did nothing to distract from a calm and control show of pristine lean shapes, light tweeds for the strong shoulder classic suits; long skirts and light silk column dresses with touches of floral decorations and a bride in a sparkling silver two piece swimsuit walking to the tune of Mina and Alberto Lupo’s 1972 hit song ‘Parole Parole’, a song popularized by Dalida and Alain Delon in a French version two years later.

At the center of any garden, especially one inspired from the 18th century grand outdoor spaces, lush green vegetation and of course the variety of flowers permeate throughout the collection showing up as delicate, technicolored bouquets. This was seen in shiny ceramic spawn along a bright green strapless dress; pastel plastics on a light pink sequin dress with feathers sleeves; white, pink, and green petals of small flowers on a bodysuit under pale green short bubble dress made of satin. The main silhouette were long and lean with boat necklines, round, broad shoulders with skirts running mid calf. A light pink suit with a folded lapel; tweed spread collar jacket with large shoulder and split front long skirt; a series of voluminous bell and corolla shape dresses; black cropped jacket and a tiered white skirt; several versions of pastel satin short dresses with folding details revealing embroideries underneath.

While there was an absence of brand new or experimental shapes of past seasons like the radical giant shoulders, sleeves and waistlines from fall 2018,  or the wide spread collar neck treatment from spring 2016, here there was a deliberate process of refinement, of sharpening ideas, and fine tuning experiments of the past.  Fashion is often a trial and error methodology, whereby certain cuts may not work the first time, but that may produce the perfect lines in the next few seasons. Another thing to look at in fashion, is that the eye can adjust – a new shape may look odd in its first outing, but seeing the same shape emerge again and again and by forceful habits, one adjusts  to what whatever one sees, no matter how unusual. The large shoulder treatment was slightly rounded off that produced a shoulder still sharp but slightly less out of proportion. A deep boat neck may have made a tweed jacket look more like a vest, but raising the line slightly and the jacket became part of a slick suit with a neckline that fell on each side of the chest at the correct angle to meet the collarbone.  This too, is a process of haute couture and the slow march of changes in how clothes are made, in this spring show, this process is clear to the naked eye.

This incredibly soft collection complimented the summer garden décor so that the clothes felt a bit like the lightness of air, even the spring tweed fabrics used on the classic suits,  the taffeta and silk used on dresses seemed featherweight, the embellishments, never excessive. One can sense lightness as the models passed by pushing away the cold air. Perhaps this lightness is also a thought process in clothes making – younger people don’t want clothes that feel heavy on their body. Or they are just great spring couture garments.

Photos courtesy of Chanel