greetings earthlings, we come in peace: chanel, louis vuitton and miu miu
“I’m very much down to earth, just not this earth,” Karl Lagerfeld once said. On the last day of shows in Paris, he launched a Chanel spaceship while Nicolas Ghesquière broke down borders at Louis Vuitton, and Miuccia Prada fought for a glamorous world...
"She's working at the pyramid tonight," the Frank Ocean song reiterated as Louis Vuitton's models made their way through the classical statues in the Louvre's Cour Marly on Tuesday evening. The sentiment rang true for fashion's nomads, finally putting the last brick in the autumn/winter 17 shrine we've been toiling at since the New York shows four weeks ago. We'd entered through Pei's pyramid in the museum's courtyard, a futuristic glass structure that shoots through the Cour Napoléon like the tip of a UFO. Inside, it takes visitors on a time travel through centuries and cultures and the artistic masterpieces that define them. The museum is a symbol of the global outlook once paramount to the colonial powers of Europe. When they were done expanding across this planet - and independence was restored in the colonies - they set their sights on outer space, just like Chanel, who launched a rocket inside the Grand Palais in the afternoon. "Is there life on Mars?" Decades ago, David Bowie asked the same question designers have been pondering this season, toying with escapist Space Age references in a fashion arena greatly affected by the political climate and its xenophobic, chauvinistic undertones. Much like the 60s, escaping to another planet seems easier than dealing with the problems on this one. But our glamorous Space Age wanderlust is also fuelled by the optimism and opportunity that era represented, when politicians and voters were more concerned with expanding Earth's borders than limiting them.
On the last day of shows in Paris - and the season - Nicolas Ghesquière summed up the topics of autumn/winter 17 at Louis Vuitton, feeding nomadic and folkloric references into an urban fusion representative of fashion itself. No other phenomenon in the world travels as much across borders and brings together as many cultures as fashion, where a South American-inspired dress by an African designer based in Europe can end up on the back of a person in America or Asia—theoretically speaking, at least. This season's multi-referential, hyper-historicist, cross-cultural character is second nature to Ghesquière, who always works from that premise. And in his collection, a modernist sportswear take on nomadic dress - which had all the slick, futuristic elements the designer can't resist - he was on home turf, only it was the global and borderless kind. Sitting amongst the marble statues and ficus trees in the golden white, glass-roofed Cour Marly, sleep-deprived and reflective, listening to that hypnotising Frank Ocean song about Cleopatra, you could almost feel the Earth spinning a little bit. Perhaps it was the aftershocks of Chanel's rocket launch earlier in the day, which kind of had to be seen to be believed. It didn't shoot through the roof of the Grand Palais, of course, but it was very much a life-sized experience, fire and smoke in tow. Karl Lagerfeld's statement was loud and proud: get us out of here, away from the madness, "the freakiest show", as Bowie sang.
He wasn't on the soundtrack—Elton John's Rocket Man was, as Lagerfeld's spacesuit takes on the Chanel suit roamed the ascension platform, with all the rocket-shaped handbags, quilted silver blanket scarves and Priscilla Presley hairdos a new Space Age generation could want for. Helmets off to Etienne Russo, who produced the show, to Michel Gaubert, who scored it, and to Lagerfeld for staging one of the most incredible fashion experiences ever, and one that managed to pull you out of this world and put your feet solidly back on the ground, all at once. The Chanel show wasn't about escapism, but about taking action and making a statement. Miuccia Prada did that in the afternoon, practically covering the interior of Palais d'Iena in lilac faux fur. Her lavishly multi-textured Miu Miu show was girly glamour all the way, most excellently exercised in oversized ski jackets with furry collars and in abundant layering of surfaces like a transparent coat with black piping worn over a pink disc sequin dress and topped off with a dusty rose fur stole. The silhouette - and accompanying bejewelled headbands - kind of transported you to the 30s, and at this point it's hardly necessary to explain the current connotations of that reference. Mrs Prada's Miu Miu message was about fighting the ugly with the glamorous, and nothing could do that better than fashion and its industry, which has really excelled on the social and political front this season. With a show platform that seems to only grow in size and importance every six months, this is the duty of fashion.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams