I was really excited when I learnt about Chanel’s upcoming Paris-Bombay Metiers d’Art collection. I visited Mumbai for the first time earlier this year and fell in love with the fabrics, colours and craftsmanship. I’ve always seen parallels between the Haute Couture houses of Paris and the ateliers in India – in fact countless of brands such as Valentino and Christian Lacroix have been using Indian artisans to create their collections for years. It was only a matter of time before Karl Lagerfeld looked to India’s rich heritage and innate sense of style.
While his previous Metiers d’Art collections have been unveiled in the cities that inspired them, he chose Paris’ imposing Grand Palais this time round (much to the dismay of editors hoping to snag a trip to India!)
Initially I was expecting a Bollywood-worthy spectacle that took its inspiration from the Maharajas of Rajasthan, with their chunky jewels, bold colours and heavily embellished pieces. But instead Lagerfeld, who has never visited India by the way, created his own vision by way of Paris.
“It’s a concept of India. More Chanel than India. The Parisian version of an India that doesn’t exist,” said the Kaiser.
So classics such as the tweed jacket came with cascades of pearls or embroidered in rich gold. Nehru style jackets are embellished in white silk or transform into a long dress with buttons down the front. The masala or Indian flavour was all in the nuances – the flash of hot pink, the drape of a skirt with sari borders, bejewelled buttons and mirror embroideries for example. Instead of a traditional sari made from draped fabric, he sent out long gold and silver dresses with contrasting geometric panels to mimic where a sari is flung across the body.
If you are looking for something that captures that sights, sounds and smells of a vibrant country (as Paris-Shanghai did) then think again. However, it was nothing short of beautiful and a true testament to the tiny hands that keep the fashion world turning.