Exclusive: Karl Lagerfeld’s haute couture shoot for Chanel

A rare glimpse of Lagerfeld at work, shooting Chanel’s latest haute couture collection.
Karl Lagerfeld insists on shooting all of the advertising and media campaigns for each of the brands he works with. Photo by Olivier Saillant
Karl Lagerfeld insists on shooting all of the advertising and media campaigns for each of the brands he works with. Photo by Olivier Saillant

“Of all materials in the world, the one I like best is paper. It’s the starting point for a drawing and the finishing point for a photograph,” master couturier Karl Lagerfeld has said.

He may be best known for the much-coveted clothing that he creates at Chanel (not to mention Fendi and his own eponymous fashion label), but Lagerfeld is a man of many talents. He is a publisher, designer, film director and, as the quote above suggests, an avid photographer.

He has published a number of books featuring his own snaps, most famously The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited, which captures a long list of celebrities donning the brand’s timeless classic. In The Beauty of Violence, meanwhile, Lagerfeld presents strikingly intimate portraits of male fashion model Baptiste Giabiconi.

“Today, photography is part of my life. I can’t see life without the vision of photography. I look at the world and at fashion with the eye of a camera. This enables me to maintain a critical detachment in my everyday work, which helps me more than I could ever have imagined,” Lagerfeld says.

The designer also insists on shooting all of the advertising and media campaigns for each of the brands he works with. In this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Lagerfeld shooting Chanel’s autumn/winter haute couture 2016/17 collection, we see the fashion icon capturing key outfits from the collection, and also witness how these looks come together.

For the runway presentation of his latest haute couture creations, Lagerfeld, a master of showmanship, transformed Paris’s Grand Palais into an haute couture atelier, to highlight the skill, craftsmanship and people behind each of his outfits.

More than 120 seamstresses – including premieres from the Chanel ateliers on the famed Rue Cambon – formed the backdrop to the runway show, and were seen surrounded by the tools of their traditionally secretive trade: sewing machines, mirrors, pins, fabrics, multicoloured threads, toiles and mannequins. “I thought that was a modern idea to make them participate. They should be shown, too,” said Lagerfeld after the show.

As seen in this shoot, models were sent down the runway with a tower of curls piled high on their heads, secured with oversized grosgrain hairbands. Their make-up – a look that was part porcelain doll, part Marie Antoinette – consisted of dark liner smudged into triangles beneath the eyes, coupled with triangular lashes and the lightest dab of rosy blush on the cheeks.

The season’s silhouette was ultra-sleek, with a strong, clean shoulder line on many of the pieces. Bevelled or angular cut, often with an extreme taper or single sharp angle (but never any padding), this was a unifying element of the show.

Trousers, or culottes, which widened through the leg to a cropped hem, were also the order of the day, and were paired with jackets of varying shapes and lengths to create a new, ultra-wearable Chanel suit. The colour palette was quintessentially autumnal, with browns, oranges, beige and greys set off by gentle pops of pink, black and white.

For evening wear, Lagerfeld took his cues from 19th-century English author and illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. Beardsley’s signature black-and-white illustrations, always set against a white background, were translated into high waists, voluminous cuts, intricate embroidery and beading.

There were feathers protruding from shoulders and hems, and skirts that flared out dramatically over soft cages – proving once more that Lagerfeld’s photographer-trained eye can do no wrong.

Read this and other stories in Luxury magazine, out with The National on Thursday, September 8.


Published: September 6, 2016 04:00 AM


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