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Women's Fashion / Fashion Equations

Chanel Womenswear A/W11

A mathematical guide to the key inspirations and references in designers' collections by Laura Bradley, illustrated by Tom Baxter

Boy + Caspar David Friedrich's landscapes + Count Dracula = Chanel A/W11
Boy + Caspar David Friedrich's landscapes + Count Dracula = Chanel A/W11 Illustrations Tom Baxter

Whilst designers are currently revealing their designs for the spring/summer 2012 season, for one last time let's consider the influences and inspirations for the autumn/winter 2011 collections. Now comes the turn of Chanel A/W11, which brought to mind...

Whilst designers are currently revealing their designs for the spring/summer 2012 season, for one last time let's consider the influences and inspirations for the autumn/winter 2011 collections. Now comes the turn of Chanel A/W11, which is currently enjoying a celebration in Harrods.

For the winter months, Lagerfeld opted for dark and dramatic – "We live in a destroyed, dangerous world", he explained. The backdrop was no less impressive than any previous Chanel show (remember the exquisite ornamental gardens for S/S11 and the imposing Scandinavian iceberg for A/W10?) and gave plenty of clues to the key themes running through Lagerfeld's mind. Twin drawbridges crashed down and models walked onto a boardwalk, in front of smoldering earth and a sinister forest. There were echoes of 19th century German painter Caspar David Friedrich's sinister landscapes which typically featured contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins.

Set to a thundering soundtrack of Michel Gaubert's orchestral revision of the Cure's seminal goth classic A Forest, the 77-look collection, incorporating women's and men's looks, promoted a sombre colour palette of black, smoke grey, forest green and blood red. The designs brought to mind gothic literature, particularly Count Dracula, first introduced in Bram Stoker's 1897 epistolary novel. The most iconic part of his look, the cape, featured a number of times – in grey boucle, worn with elbow-length leather gloves by raven-crop-haired Stella Tenant and a long knitted version sported by Bambi Northwood. There were plenty of options for the modern day bride of Dracula, with elegant shredded chiffon dresses and cobweb-like full skirts.

Layering was one of the central themes of the collection which offered a new way to wear the iconic Chanel jacket. Beaded and embroidered versions of the jacket, feted for its "second skin" qualities were paired with oversized mannishly tailored tuxedo jackets. Another key theme was the "boy" which happens to be the name of the house's new bag. Lagerfeld's girls had a distinctly androgynous, school boy look, with their heavy, thick-soled boots and hands in pockets (a favourite stance of Coco herself). Pants were baggy, with the extra length gathered at the ankles, reminiscent of the style seen on boys returning to school after the long summer holidays (their mother's knowing full well they will grow into them very quickly).

Next Wednesday, AnOther Website will be showing behind-the-scenes coverage of the S/S12 CHANEL collection.

Laura Bradley is the Commissioning Editor of AnOther and published her first series of Fashion Equations in May 2008. Tom Baxter is an illustrator currently living and working in London.

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