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At Chanel, Le Corbusier Inspires Concrete Couture

chanel set
At left, a view of the Paris apartment designed by Le Corbusier that inspired Chanel’s latest haute couture collection and runway show. (Photos from right: © FLC/ADAGP, Olivier Saillant)

chanel fw coutureHaving recently tapped into markets high (fine art) and low (the grocery store) to inspire his collections for the megahouse of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld looked to the work of Le Corbusier to fire up his creativity for the fall couture. With the blessing of the Fondation Le Corbusier, he transformed the Grand Palais to resemble the paradoxical outdoor living room, complete with fireplace, of the long-demolished Champs-Elysées apartment that Corbu designed in 1929 for one Charles de Beistegui. “All white concrete, with some baroque elements,” said Lagerfeld yesterday in a post-show interview, as he described his architectural inspiration.

The modern material found its way into the collection via tiny tiles of gray and white concrete (pink and green are in the works) that Lagerfeld used for elaborate or starkly geometric mosaic-style embroideries that accented bodices, traced hems, and encrusted entire dresses, all shown with flat sandals and hairstyles that evoked plumage—in a nod to the rara avis who is the twenty-first century couture customer. “What I liked about this collection is that it’s really flawless, impeccable shapes,” said Lagerfeld of the 70 looks he sent down the grandly scaled runway. “They’re light, they float, they don’t walk heavily…and I think that makes it more modern.”

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