Chanel is spiky and modern at Paris fashion
Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld on Tuesday took inspiration from one of the pioneers of modern architecture Le Corbusier with a couture collection described as "concrete with baroque elements".
In the early 1930s, Le Corbusier created an outdoor terrace at his Paris apartment overlooking the Champs-Elysees.
The terrace, which has long since disappeared, featured an outdoor fireplace with a mirror set against a concrete wall.
Cue Lagerfeld's latest fashion extravaganza on day three of the haute couture collections for autumn/winter 2014/15.
Sharp lines and big white walls dominated the designer's set in Paris's Grand Palais.
As the show began, huge panelled doors at either end of the catwalk slid open to reveal gold-framed mirrors and 18th-century mantelpieces.
Boyish, spiky-haired models wore hats perched on the back of their heads and flat sandals with ribbons tied in a bow around the ankle.
Coats and skirts came with matching shorts peeking out about an inch below the hemline and signature tweedy fabrics were heavily embroidered for a baroque effect.
Sticking largely to a palette of white, grey, silver and red, memorable looks included pointed shoulders and fur necklines.
Emphasising the young feel of the collection, bags with long straps were slung around the body like school satchels.
"I liked the idea of baroque elements and modern touches. His (Le Corbusier's) apartment was a famous place for that," Lagerfeld told AFP after the show.
The architect's terrace was destroyed before World War II but appeared over the years in many architectural books and magazines, he said.
"This is the typical thing of the collection -- concrete with baroque elements. Le Corbusier goes to Versailles," Lagerfeld added.
- Asian feel -
A significant number of guests at the show were from Asia, such as Wen Hsin Tsai Hong from Taiwan who told AFP the collection had a particularly Asian feel.
The models, she said, were shorter than usual and had a noticeably "Asian shape", she said.
Another customer, Yi Mig Shi, 32, from Shanghai, said she liked the "young" feel of the collection and planned on buying two of the dresses.
For the finale, Lagerfeld added a dramatic touch taken from Chinese history.
Models moved in formation from opposite ends of the set, crossing in the middle, as if the Terracotta Army had been brought to life.
Lagerfeld then took to the catwalk with a model in a bridal gown, applauded by guests including fashion photographer Mario Testino and US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
Haute couture, which exists only in Paris, is worn exclusively by the world's richest women due to its sky-high prices.
Chanel fashion president Bruno Pavlovsky told AFP that after years of an ageing clientele more and more customers were now in their twenties and thirties.
They were looking for exclusivity and bought haute couture "for important events or as a present to themselves", he said.
Haute couture is a legally protected appellation subject to strict criteria, such as the amount of work carried out by hand, the limited number of pieces and the size of a house's workforce.
Around 30 haute couture collections for autumn/winter 2014/15 are being shown in Paris this week, before wrapping up on Friday.
© 2014 AFP