I’ve emerged from the newborn hell and fash-un is calling. In between the thankfully reduced night feeds, I’ve been dreaming that I was having imaginary conversation about Edward Enninful’s new era at British Vogue or how insane/funny the queues are going to be for Supreme’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton. Not a lie. I did indeed wake up one morning thinking I had had a chummy frow-worthy chortle, and was then brought back down to earth by the rhythmic beat of Ewan the sheep and the milky scent of leaking boobs.
And so I’ve decided to throw myself into the deep end of the cruise show diving pool. I’m doing all of ‘em. As in all the biggie houses that take you around the world, serving up experiences as well as clothes so that whatever far flung location seeps into your brain. The freezer is full of blocks of my boob juice. The other half has been schooled on the art of Milton cold water sterilisation. Timer alerts have been set for FaceTime sessions with Nico and five minute bouts of breast pumping.
To start the cruise journey off, there was an easy one-day jaunt to Paris on Wednesday for Chanel’s cruise 2018 show. Chanel may have been one of the first houses to pioneer the extravagant travelling cruise show but such is their might, that the move to bring it all back to home turf in Paris, following their Metiers D’arts show at the Ritz, was a compelling one. Especially as we entered the Grand Palais under the angsty pre-election vibes of a drizzly Paris and found ourselves bathed in the warming hues of terracotta stuccoed walls and the ombre light of a sun setting over the Aegean. The scent of real olive trees planted in amongst the meticulously crafted Doric column ruins was authentic enough, as was the wafts of burning charcoal roasting sticks of gyros at the after show cocktail (was I the only one who found it really great that we ate meat on a stick at a Chanel party?). We didn’t physically go to Greece but in ambiance and mood it came to us.
And it doesn’t take a plane journey to make sense of the clothes in a collection Karl Lagerfeld called “The Antiquity of Modernity.” This was perhaps one of Chanel’s most straightforward, easy-to-decipher collections of late. You couldn’t possibly apply the phrase ‘It’s all Greek to me’ in this instance. Because the collection was the opposite of unintelligible, which isn’t to say that the clothes are simple. “Reality is of no interest to me. I use what I like. My Greece is an idea.” That was the bold assertion from Lagerfeld in the press notes and indeed it’s not quite the reality of the country today, marred by economic woes. Instead, it’s the mythical Greece of not just Lagerfeld’s imagining but a collective one. This Grecian jaunt ran the gamut from Madame Grés-esque pleated and draped gowns, to amped up Halston vibes in caped printed chiffon dresses and then to modern day chiton mini robes for those Insta-friendly holidays in Santorini and Mykonos. Gabrielle Chanel provided the starting point with her costumes for Jean Cocteau’s 1922 staging of Antigone and her marble Venus statue that still sits in her Rue Cambon apartment. From there, it was every tried-and-tested Grecian-inspired dress trope for Lagerfeld’s taking. Chanel’s tweeds were roughed up and frayed for rugged coastal climates. Knife-cut pleats were moulded into amphora-shaped dresses, tightened in with embellished corsets. The King Midas touch of gold was scattered all over a recurring laurel leaf print motif, an owl of Athena on a double CC purse and the gentle jingle of hammered coin embroidery. For the lover of a memorable kitsch Chanel shoe, gladiator sandals come with ionic column heels.
The familiarity of it all works in the context of a cruise collection. Type in beachwear into MatchesFashion.com and ye shall find the holiday friendly fashion category, burgeoning and bursting as a sector in its own right. The monied and jetsetting community of the world who can afford to look to Chanel for their poolside and yacht-sunning needs will find that these toga-lite silhouettes and sun-friendly shades of terracotta, midnight blue and white fit that functional bill. And for something more fanciful that mirrored Michel Gaubert’s 21st century Greek soundtrack consisting of Aphrodite’s Child and Iannis Xenakis? How about those black ankle Daria-esque boots with criss-cross straps? Or a transparent swiss dot-decorated kimono in thin plastic. Or a crackled marble waist cinching corset rendered in sequins. In the end it was proof again that Kaiser Karl could apply just about place Chanel codes amidst any era, civilisation or universe.