What’s black and white and flowery all over?

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What’s black and white and flowery all over?

Chanel, covered in camellia blossoms.
Someone’s obsession with Madame Coco Chanel’s favorite flora turned the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt hotel in central Seoul ― the venue of Chanel Korea’s annual Mega Show ― into a whirlwind of camellias.
In a show of brand loyalty, local celebrities, clients and industry professionals adhered to the event’s dress code: black and white. If the super-rich and the super-famous in attendance were decked out in their own Chanel acquisitions or in those borrowed from the runway, the poor followed the unspoken fashion rule of a white Gap shirt and black trousers. But the look of glitz, it seemed, wasn’t complete without a dainty blossom perched on the lapel, at the hip, in the hair, or at least decked out on the walls.
Such enthusiasm reflects the popularity of Chanel, loyalty earned because whether the season is hot, cold or wet, the brand promises its fans an irresistible juxtaposition of classic and trendy, plus items that make the little-girl-at-heart squeal in delight. Add to that a stage aura glamorous enough for spectators to be possessed by Madame Chanel’s ghost, and no one could go home without the urge to splurge.
Among the 2005-6 fall and winter collection, there were a plenty of outfits seemingly tailor-made to lure Korean women. Besides Chanel’s usual flirtation with black and white, the designers used soft gray in the form of tweed, flannel, cashmere and hand-knitted accessories, such as scarves, leggings and boleros.
The thirty models who walked under the tall chrome arch of the runway looked like updated replicas of swinging 60’s models Peggy Moffitt and Penelope Tree. The style was aimed at representing Karl Lagerfeld’s idea of innovative mod fashion, reinterpreted Chanel-style.
The collection included the signature look made famous by Jean Shrimpton in skin-tight thigh-high boots, except that the Chanel boots were cap-toed in contrasting black or white, and their luxurious lamb skin slouched down like melting butter. Yet Lagerfeld’s Chanel girl was not exactly a sex kitten ― rather a sweet schoolgirl who just happened to be over 35.
Aware of his aging but incredibly young-looking clientele, the French designer kept the collection youthful by reviving the classic “little black dress,” the proportions of which remained A-line short. Like Twiggy in Sears catalogues, the models wore mini-coats over thigh-grazing skirts, and chiffon or knit leggings covered their skinny legs.
The new silhouettes included a cute T-shirt dress; it’s not an ordinary dress, but a spectacular red-carpet version made with flowing jersey in black, dotted all over with snow white seed pearls.
For the next few months, expect super-trendy Chanelistas in new pairs of navy knickers adorned with satin bows and a crocheted beanie hat, all very Ali McGraw. Plus ― let’s not forget ― a camellia blossom.
History repeats at Chanel. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ubiquitous “quilted bag,” Lagerfeld revived the same design this year, so daughters can drag their mothers to Chanel stores.
The Mega Show introduced a surprisingly bold, new statement in women’s fashion: an effeminate lady’s man as a fashion accessory. When the Korean heartthrob-of-the-month, Chun Jung-myung, strutted out on the runway, the crowed erupted in cheers. After all, Mr. Chun is a Chanelista’s idea of a dream-date, clutching a Chanel bag and sporting Chanel belt, scarf and, of course, camellia blossoms.


by Ines Cho

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