Karl Lagerfeld looked to the origin of culture for the latest CHANEL Cruise collection, which was presented in the Galerie Courbe upstairs in the Grand Palais on May 3rd. Greek Antiquity, the cradle of culture, beauty and modernity, is at the heart of the designer’s inspiration: “The criteria of beauty in ancient, then classical, Greece still hold true. There have never been more beautiful representations of women. Or more beautiful columns. The entire Renaissance, in fact, was based on Antiquity. It is really about the youth of the world in all its power and unpredictability — just like the unforgiving gods.”

Supple draping and elegant, fluid lines shape a silhouette in tweed and jersey, silk and linen, lace and crepe. Raw fringe mingles with precious embroidery, column-heeled gladiators elevate the traditional Greek sandal, and Olympic laurels become head ornaments while sautoirs, bracelets and golden cuffs adorn the neck and arms. Amphorae transform into small or large pleated leather backpacks. Minaudières and clutches are crafted in meticulously draped leather or bronzed exotic skins. CHANEL’s GABRIELLE bag mixes leather with knitted owl or antique vase motifs, or appears in marbled leather.

In rewriting the codes of Antiquity, Karl Lagerfeld offers an idealized vision of Greece: “Reality is of no interest to me. I use what I like. My Greece is an idea,” he says. Greek sleeves with draped or gathered shoulders structure lines and find a counterpoint in marked or belted waists. Sun pleats are inspired by fluted columns, while knitwear motifs echo those found on antique vases or the friezes of ancient frescoes. The designer homes in on details, such as buttons engraved with owls, the mythological symbol of wisdom; or prints with laurel crowns, oak leaves with hidden camellias or laurel branches arched into elegant double-Cs. These symbols, along with the wheat stalks Gabrielle Chanel favored, also embellish the coins adorning an elegant little evening bag.

With this collection, Karl Lagerfeld composes a true travelogue through time and space. Dazzling white and vivid Cycladic blue cascade over suit dresses and A-line jackets in woven tweed, illuminating an iconic suit with curvaceous, amphora-like hips.
Antiquity meets modern fashion mythology in draped jersey tops, long skirts, and wide, fluid sun-pleated trousers and jumpsuits in black, white and beige or terracotta and gold. Fringed, unlined pale or ocher tweed is fashioned into ample crossover coats and zipped shepherdess dresses belted with a gold-ringed cord. The simplicity of linen dresses is elevated with embroideries of multi-colored stones. The realm of mythology is ever-present: Greek goddesses appear in dresses literally sculpted, in immaculate crepe, their marked waists embroidered entirely in sequins that emulate marble.
Nymphs, too, emerge in jersey or mousseline dresses worn under long tunics printed with crowns of golden leaves. Elsewhere are dresses embroidered with spirals, a symbol of movement, life and energy that lends balance to Spartan-inspired tops and skirts.

A longtime admirer of Antiquity, Karl Lagerfeld transcends its codes, demonstrating the timelessness, spirit and allure of CHANEL. Presented at the Grand Palais, this collection was welcomed with resounding applause by the CHANEL ambassadresses Keira Knightley, Anna Mouglalis, Caroline de Maigret, Ellie Bamber and Clotilde Hesme, the young American actress Yara Shahidi, the French actresses Isabelle Huppert and Marine Vacth, the Chinese actress Liu Shi Shi, as well as the directors Pedro Almodóvar and Deniz Gamze Ergüven.