When, in 2002, Chanel began its acquisition of some of Paris’s most feted haute couture ateliers – among them master embroiderers Lesage, Lemarié, specialists in feathers and flowers, costume jewellers Goossens and Massaro, purveyors of hand-crafted footwear, responsible, most famously, for the iconic Chanel two-tone pump – it established itself as the fairy godmother of this rarefied craft. It seems only right and proper, then, that the sets that form the backdrop to the house’s own twice-yearly shows are also quite possibly the most intricate and elaborately thought out in the world. These have, in recent seasons, included a larger-than-lifesize drawing room that drew inspiration equally from Le Corbusier and the Baroque and a coastal forest complete with sandy forest floor.
"A masterpiece of paper artistry was like a garden which 'God forgot to create’" – Karl Lagerfeld
For Spring/Sumer 2015, an artificial hothouse was constructed and duly installed in Paris’s Grand Palais. Beneath a circular stage, no less than 300 mechanisms were hidden, each one of them responsible for powering a single, oversized white paper plant. As the lights went up, the lovingly created foliage gently opened to reveal exotic blooms hand cut and painted in colours brighter than nature ever intended.
Fast forward almost a month to the day and, when the powers that be at this, France’s most famous fashion house brought the collection in all its brilliantly flowery glory to London so that residents of that city – both clients and press – could witness it at first hand, said set was lovingly packed up and crossed the channel along with the clothes. And like the clothes, as M Lagerfeld himself puts it, this masterpiece of paper artistry was like a garden which ‘God forgot to create.’