Karl Lagerfeld. The iconoclast that has created fashion's most dazzling show sets for Chanel all under the glass dome of the Grand Palais : from a larger-than-life glistening black globe dotted with tiny Chanel flags and a futuristic solar-paneled runway complete with windmills, to a golden carousel overflowing with whimsy pearls and bows, a visit to the glorious Versailles Chateau, and a giant supermarket that made buying household necessities chic again, he never fails to inject a sense of modern extravagance and inventiveness to every show he puts out. For Spring 2015 however, the attention wasn't on so much the set, but the banging finale that ended the show on such a high note. Capturing fantasies was always what Karl does best, but this time he instead captured the cultural zeitgeist of freedom, and turned it into a powerful finale set in none other than Chanel's very own piece of Parisian cityscape, a gold-stone and glass filled Boulevard Chanel.
Coco Chanel has always believed that clothes should be real, and function should be just as important as form, like how the chain on the 2.55 handbag was to keep hands free, and how it was originally lined with burgundy so it would be easier to find things. So down the runway came wearable pieces in the form of wide trousers, pinstriped blouses, cardigans and tunics, worn by a bevy of Chanel favourites such as Ming Xi, Cara Delevingne, Binx Walton and Soo Joo Park who walked in unconventional twos and threes. Psychedelic splatters of paint shaded everything from accessories to shoes, yet there was also a sense of sober tailoring to it, with clear white seams and trimmings outlining the silhouettes.
Gisele Bundchen made her only runway appearance for S/S 2015 in one of the only va va voom pieces in the collection, a body con striped beige sweater dress that showcased her mile long legs, and furthering her status as a top supermodel who's still in demand for someone her age. Long rainbow tweeds set off the peacock toned makeup, while exuberant gauzy blouses dotted with delicate flowers made for a fresh look in the city and at the beach. Chanel's iconic black and white theme was clearly visible on the patchwork organza and stripes that resembled a piano keyboard.
The bags has always been what Chanel is known for, and this season the offerings are as modern as ever. Enter the technology-infused/protest bags : grey quilted clutches with built in boomboxes, and bags stamped with slogans such as "Make Fashion Not War", "Votez Coco" and "Féministe mais Féminine". There was even a tribute bag of sorts that incorporated all the makings of a Chanel jacket namely buttons, tweed and braid, into a delectable purse with soft leather handles. Open black leather derbies with golden straps were the essence of androgyny, with the front modelled after a man's shoes and the heel a woman's. Pieces everyone could play with, the collection was teeming with mode de vie or as Amanda Harlech put it, "Idealized real life, clothes for every single woman-girl."
As the show came to a close, the show attendees were waiting for the usual one-line catwalk finale, but instead from the backstage came a full fledge fashion riot. Led by a megaphone wielding Cara Delevingne, the entire posse of models marched down the faux pavement brandishing placards with fashion commandments like "Tweed is better than tweet", "Women’s Rights Are More Than Alright,”, “We Can Match the Machos,” and the more relevant "He for She", while taking to the streets with chants of feminist statements. Lagerfeld was inspired by the events of May 1968, in which he claimed "there was an air of freedom I never felt before in Paris.", and for a modern Chanel where freedom in clothes holds much importance, it's definitely a cause worth rioting for.
Though Lagerfeld who was infamous for saying that only "fat mommies with bags of crisps" would raise issues on size-zero models, is an unlikely advocator of feminism as fashionable, he has made the Chanel muse the epitome of a modern free-spirited woman, daring to move beyond social norms and in every likeness to Gabrielle Chanel. Even the usual single-file, silent catwalk was turned into models walking freely in groups, chatting and making a fearless statement with their confident strides. If this isn't the image of modern day feminism, I don't know what is.