Haute Couture Spring 2016: Chanel's Beige Symphony

Jan 27, 2016, 7:07 AM EST
Chanel Spring/Summer 2016 Haute Couture Collection

Chanel’s haute couture collections showcase the mastery of its ateliers and petite mains, not just in embroidering sequins and crystals but in constantly innovating with new materials under the design baguette of Karl Lagerfeld. Two years ago, Chanel had embellished some of its gowns with tiny pieces of cement, this time it was the turn of wood shavings getting the haute couture treatment, embroidered on a sleeveless jacket and also on the wedding dress.

Lagerfeld stated that the starting point for the line was "the silhouette," which was long and lean, with straight skirts worn a lady-like mid-calf length and teamed with short tweet jackets with exaggerated bulbous sleeves and aClaudine collar or with a fluid blouse that has loosely ruffled sleeves.

For evening, the designer offered cropped wide-legged trousers teamed with wide-cut boleros, embroidered jackets or light-as-air painted capes that trail to the ground.

Chiffon was worked into various pleats, lamé organza was also twisted into pleats, while some skirts included flirty fringes giving a certain nonchalance to the overall look. Of note were shell-like sleeves that created a striking (and unusual) silhouette and a beautiful black evening gown with double straps that created a distinctive and sexy triangular effect that is likely to be eagerly snapped up for red carpet looks.

Beige was the main palette of this collection, in all its tones of ecru, sand, ivory, taupe, and mocha and the bee was a recurring motif, embroidered, created out of feathers, or mounted as costume jewelry. Round-toe, two-tone cork wedges with a curved (coma) heel were the shoe of the day for all the looks, while handbags, that have previously been a staple of the brand, were replaced by slim belt pouches large enough to fit a smart phone.

The Chanel bride wore a strapless dress with geometric lace embroidered with leather, wood shavings, beads, and rhinestones together with a hooded jacket with train.

Known for his extravagant runway settings that have including building a plane and recreating a supermarket in recent seasons, Lagerfeld went for a more ‘minimalist’ approach, setting his show in a garden, complete with manicured lawn, reflective ponds, wood paths, and a three-floor wood-slat pavilion inspired by minimalist Scandinavian architecture. As the show finished all the doors of the pavilion retracted (garage like) revealing small rooms each with a few models inside all of which theater transformed the structured into a giant Chanel dolls’ house.

-- Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop