Chanel at Marienbad
I saw the classic 60s film Last Year at Marienbad recently, and two days later was invited to the Chanel Press Day – which was, incidentally, inspired by the film.
Designers can draw on a variety of inspirations to create a fashion collection – often the past, the future, exotic travels, muses. Karl Lagerfeld has the daunting task of reinventing one of the oldest couture houses each season, yet he also has a rich past to take endless ideas from, thanks to Coco Chanel’s (in)famous history and stories.
Few collections are inspired by a movie that closely though, especially when you know that all the clothes from said movies were designed by Chanel at the time. It is like creating a collection based on a specific vintage collection from the same house, rather than a vintage era. Yet Karl did it brilliantly as ever, with only a few outfits that looked obviously similar, and focusing the comparison on the set and the (slightly scary) music from the film.
Now back to the Alain Resnais film: a little controversial and dubbed pretentious or boring by some due to a very simple plot and slow rhythm, it takes place in the city of Marienbad in Czech Republic – in fact it is more of a huit-clos as every scene is in a Chateau, or its beautifully manicured French gardens – and recalls the story of a man trying to convince a woman they had an affair the year before in Marienbad. Basic story, yet intriguing, fascinating, with a polished black and white aesthetic. Also a major piece in surrealist film and the beginning of the 60s new wave.
As you know, I love when culture and fashion interconnect, and this is a great example of it. Drawing inspiration from the past, but from one’s own past. That is conceptual.
The best piece of the Chanel Spring Summer 2011 collection? This graphic bag in classic black and white leather with a outline of Versailles gardens in sequins – see next page. And the black croc version, anyone? Oh, there was also this incredible gold Swarovski clutch, bang on trends for Christmas, or this adorable velvet pouch with a gold lullaby clasp.. but these are all-time wishlist items – inspired by a film or not!
Photography by Alize Morand. Chanel S/S 11 London Press Day. Please credit.