The soaring domes and stone facades of the Nave at Paris’ Grand Palais were built in 1900 as a “monument dedicated by the Republic to the glory of French art”, and over the years, they have housed seminal exhibitions by Matisse, Braque and Derain, sheltered the French Resistance during the Liberation of Paris and in 2011 played host to Anish Kapoor’s extraordinary structure Leviathan. And since 2006, Karl Lagerfeld has been staging his Chanel couture show under the vaulted glass arches of this most iconic French landmark, adding fashion to the long list of supreme artistic visions that have been shown there. Today, to celebrate last month’s forest set iteration of couture, AnOther considers the different ways, year on year, Chanel have transformed the Palais into a manifestation of their creative vision.
S/S13 – Lagerfeld walked his shimmering, smoky eyed models through a Mediterranean beachside forest filled with the sounds of chirping birds.
A/W12 – 1940s tweed and exquisite sportswear were entwined this season, when the Nave was eschewed for the Salon d’Honneur, the richly muraled chamber at the heart of the Palais.
S/S12 – Youth, air hostesses and many permutations of the colour blue were the ruling threads this season, where the show took place in a lavish simulacrum of a jumbo jet.
A/W11 – An iconic French landmark was placed within an iconic French landmark this season, when Lagerfeld created a replica of the Place Vendôme, with Napoleon replaced atop his column by Coco, the robotic star of Fritz Lang’s 1927 cinematic masterpiece Metropolis.
S/S11 – A lightness of touch and balletic grace imbued the garments at Chanel this season, with Lagerfeld’s inspiration coming from the artist Marie Laurencin’s collaboration with Diaghliev and Cocteau on the ballet Les Biches. All the models walked in ballet flats, and “violent colours” were rejected, to be replaced by icy greys, pinks, blues and shimmering blacks.
A/W10 – Horoscopes were at the front of Karl’s mind this season, and in honour of Chanel the Leo, the Grand Palais was filled with a vast sculpture of a golden lion; for some fierce and marvellous, for others something out of a ferocious nightmare.
"A/W10 – Horoscopes were at the front of Karl’s mind this season, and in honour of Chanel the Leo, the Grand Palais was filled with a vast sculpture of a golden lion; for some fierce and marvellous, for others something out of a ferocious nightmare."
S/S10 – Setting aside the space age hair, bubble shapes, silver shoes and all white backdrop, this season should never be referred to as futurism. Said Lagerfeld, "I don't believe in avant-garde clothes for a future that will never happen. Fashion is always now."
A/W09 – Chanel was all about Chanel this time round, as the tweed clad, lace hosed models strode between a serpentine created by giant bottles of the iconic No 5 fragrance.
S/S09 – An all white collection that managed to stride the line of modernism and a joyful peaen to Spring, this time Lagerfeld let the exquisite details of the garments and the intricate constructs of paper, flowers and feathers that adorned the models heads.
A/W08 – A vast 50 foot set was constructed round a vast multilevel stack of steel-gray tubes, the tubular motif being reflected in the shape of the clothes themselves, from cocoonlike coats and belled skirts to spaghetti-esque fringing swirling from shoulders.
S/S08 – This season focused on the Chanel jacket, made obvious as soon as the audience filed in, with the centerpiece of the set taking the form of a gigantic version of the garment cast in concrete grey.
Text by Tish Wrigley