CHANEL CRUISE COLLECTION 17/18 – THE MODERNITY OF ANTIQUITY
By Crash redaction
Picture an imaginary Greece. An ideal Greece. A landscape in which, for centuries, sculptors chiselled rock to absolute perfection. This cradle of beauty, of culture, of modernity.
In this décor made of marble and greenery bathed in light, the nymphs prepare to emerge, as do serene young shepherds, whilst the gods look on.
Picture the astonishing freedom of movement, of shapes and materials. A new mythology takes from. Modern mythology.
THE MODERNITY OF ANTIQUITY
When, in 1922, Jean Cocteau delved into the origin of ancient mythology, he entrusted the costumes for his staging of Antigone to Gabrielle Chanel. Not only because she was, as he noted, “the greatest couturière of her time.” But also because he “can’t imagine that Oedipus’s daughters would be badly dressed.” *
If the poet chose Mademoiselle, it is because he knew that she had an intense, abiding and inspiring passion for Antiquity.
In her apartment on the Rue Cambon, did anything give Gabrielle Chanel greater pride and joy than her marble Venus, the goddess of beauty, with its pure lines and perfect proportions? When she spoke of her vision of fashion, her vision of world, did she not invoke the ancient world’s greatest sculptor? “My scissors are not those of Praxiteles”, she declared, “but nonetheless, I sculpt my pattern more than I draw it.” **
With a collection entitled “La Modernité de l’Antiquité” (The Modernity of Antiquity), today Karl Lagerfeld revives an ideal vision of Ancient Greece. “I see Greece as the origin of beauty and culture, where there was a wonderful freedom of movement that has since vanished”, Chanel’s creative director notes.
THE YOUTH OF THE WORLD
The designer celebrates energy through form and the raw beauty of materials, with an architectural style and radiant geometry that evokes the memory of the great dancer Isadora Duncan and that “of nymphs frolicking in the Forest of Delphi”. This recreated Antiquity, in sum, reflects an idyllic golden age that has inspired Karl Lagerfeld ever since, at the age of seven, he first discovered the story of The Trojan War. “I’m expressing through fashion a fascination I’ve had since childhood. The first book I read was Homer”, he says, recalling a two-volume set “bound in slightly lilac-hued leather with Greek motifs stamped in gold and a neoclassical graphic style.”
Today, Karl Lagerfeld reinvents this repertoire of stories and shapes. He is equally inspired by his admiration of Minoan civilization, the myths of King Minos’s palace and the “serpent goddess” priestesses with snakes wending up their arms. To him, the ancient’s approach to the body and clothing was “much more physical.”
“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.”
With a surge of energy, radiance and muses in Chanel tweed, modernity runs through Karl Lagerfeld’s idealized antiquity. A lesson for our times? “I’m suggesting going back to move forward,” the designer says.
“To create the future, you have to pay attention to the past.”
Picture the beginning of a world.
Where opposites come together because they attract.
The antique and the modern. Antique is modern.
* Gazette des Arts, 10th Febru 1923
** The Allure of Chanel, Paul Morand, London, Pushkin Press, 2008 p.55
Images : Frank Perrin