"Nothing is more modern than the oldest shapes of the history of the world – not of humans. The shapes of the sea are very modern and very inspiring. The shapes of the fishes, they are unbelievably modern. The huge fish in this set design could well be a building by Zaha Hadid. For this collection I really dived with my imagination and I brought pearls back. I wanted to change the typical Chanel things – the braids, the belting, the logo. We don’t need the logo anymore as everyone copies. I used completely modern and weightless materials and little pearls down the spine, in the ears and nose – which is very sexy. No chains, no dangling logos – just a little necklace that you used to wear around the neck but now wear around the waist. The most basic and simplest thinking possible. In daily life, complicated shapes may look very creative but you don’t live with them. Fishes wear the simplest clothes also. But as you see, I avoided mermaids. Mermaids for red carpet – we have not one. That would be the cheapest commonplace possible."
For S/S12, Chanel transformed The Grand Palais into a magical underwater world with bright white seashapes of corals, shells, stingrays and seahorses and models emerging from a clear bubble-lined cave. It wasn’t hard to guess that Karl Largerfeld’s main inspiration was “the bottom of the ocean”, a recurring theme of the season also seen at Givenchy, Versace and Peter Pilotto. Garments were adorned with pearl detailing and lines of the precious gemstones were affixed down model’s spines, ears and hair (a modern twist on a brand classic – pearls were a trademark of Mademoiselle Chanel decades ago). New fabrics came with a mother of pearl shimmer, traditional materials were given an underwater twist (note the sea sponge-like ruffles) and Florence Welch even performed “What the Water Gave Me” from an open shell stage.
Text by Lucia Davies