Chanel’s feminist march

Paris Fashion Week Chanel

A feminist furore fell upon the Grand Palais as a tweed clad Cara Delevingne physically and vocally echoed the provocative Parisian protests of May 1968 and engulfed it with the bon-chic embrace of 2014.

Placards were held aloft by Anna Karina-alikes wearing pinstriped schoolboy shorts and playfully proportioned heritage suits anchored by vivid knee high boots in shades of tangerine, cerise and the odd infusion of yellow.

The most engaging of the signs read “History is her story”, “Feminist but feminine” and “We can match the Machos”.

Aside from providing a compelling magnet for women’s rights enthusiasts, Chanel made raw space for the subtle reinvention of classics. Chanel has an acute ability of reproducing fabrics and silhouettes, maintaining the brand’s time honoured aesthetic yet still evoke a feeling that you are experiencing something fresh and innovative.

The linear lines of power and femininity were meticulously meshed to create an amalgamation of box tweed jackets (note the sign that said “Tweed is better than tweet”) and female CEO pragmatism through to inspirations straight from the hidden rooftop gardens of Paris, golden opaque tights and brutal metallic brickwork dresses that looked seamless in the puddle covered metropolis.

The delicately constructed tin-like mosaics on the garments seemingly resembled the stone grey bricks of the Parisian buildings that were used as a backdrop. The architectural square segments arranged in an attentive order were teamed with handbags that almost resembled computer hardware from the 1980s but with the sought after show indicator that is the diamante Chanel logo dangling from the side.

Another particular highlight was the kaleidoscopic colours used in the masculine tailored ties, blouses, pleated and box skirts and boots. The palette was not dissimilar to that of the watercolours used by American painter Georgia O’Keeffe. This re-highlighted the tightly era based context of the late 60s and early 70s, a popular theme shown for SS 15.

Gisele Bundchen amped up the festivities in a nonchalantly tied latté coloured cardigan with matching knee high boots. It wouldn’t be a Chanel show without iconic stripes straight from the streets of the 4th Arrondissement or as Karl christened his faux street Boulevard Chanel.

Although some would see the genre of the show perhaps as a more established representation of feminism compared to Chloe Sevigny AW 13 collection for Opening Ceremony which also included feminist prose etched onto signs. I can’t help but think that this topic has been a long time coming for a brand as globally recognisable as Chanel.

Karl may have reignited the flame for fourth-wave feminism with models broadcasting their battle cries on the catwalk, but it begs the question, when did feminism become fashionable again? Maybe it always has been but this for a new age of feminist fashion discover, which can only be a positive.


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