Everywhere there was fringing, feathers, beadwork and remarkable fabrics treatments, all with the look of the Southwest and the craft of Chanel’s specialty ateliers. One had to get up close to see that the shiny jacket was gold-leaf lacquered onto denim, that the fringing on the sleeves of a romantic blouse was finely sliced, paper-weight leather, and that the single feather in each model’s hair was patterned from pieces put together in meticulous collage.
First out: suits - rich, earthy tweeds, utterly elegant, their Texas touches limited to a scaled-down cowboy hat or two-toned boot. But soon, the references rolled in with blanket stripes, wrinkled leathers and prairie skirts. A fabulous passage played denim (dresses, skirts and skinny jeans) off of white frills. Fluid dresses (a beauty on Joan Smalls was bedecked with Texas stars) and sturdy A-line skirts swung Seventies; Lagerfeld noted accurately that one dress.
n December 1953, Coco Chanel began her incredible return to center stage. The designer reopens her Haute Couture house after fifteen years of absence. The collection is welcomed by the French press with an icy silence. Only the American media supports the looks that define the rebirth of Chanel’s style. “The Return” retraces this determining period, that shaped the legend of the designer of rue Cambon forever. "The Return," imagined, written and directed by Karl Lagerfeld, features Geraldine Chaplin in the role of Gabrielle Chanel, Rupert Everett, Anna Mouglalis, Lady Amanda Harlech, Arielle Dombasle, Kati Nescher, Vincent Darré and Sam McKnight.
"It’s a reinvention of something I don’t really know, but that I like to play with," he said. The classic Chanel suit has become a bit boxier, the skirt longer and fuller, and it’s worn with boots. For the Lone Star State: a cocktail dress and matching jacket embroidered with thousands of red and silver stars. Houndstooth coats with fur sleeves the size of, well, Texas. Blanket skirts and high-necked prairie blouses. And miles and miles of fringe, accenting everything from a knit poncho and skirt set to a silky dress Jerry Hall might’ve worn to Studio 54 to a swaggeringly gorgeous navy cape in suede and leather.
Staged in the city’s Fair Park, the event was divided into three parts. A “drive-in” screening of the new Chanel short film The Return, written and directed by Karl Lagerfeld, saw celebrity guests climb into seventy-four restored vintage automobiles parked in front of four giant screens - including the spectacle of Anna Wintour, André Leon Talley and Lagerfeld squeezing into a convertible together.
The Return stars Geraldine Chaplin as a wary yet still brazen Coco on the eve of her 1954 show, the one that was celebrated by the Americans and panned by the French - “you can hardly call that couture,” says Arielle Dombasle in the movie. “I don’t think her name will last forever.”