For several years now, Chanel has taken some specialist craftsmen under its wing, protecting and perpetuating their know-how. Desrues the costume jeweler, Lemarié the feather specialist, Lesage the embroiderer, Massaro the shoe-maker, Michel the milliner, Goossens the goldsmith and Guillet the floral accessory specialist are the seven artisanal ateliers the House purchased in 1997.
Back in 2002, Karl Lagerfeld dedicated an annual collection to them, whilst also celebrating a city that is part of the House’s history. This year for the ninth occasion the destination was Byzantium, with a “Paris Byzance” collection, in keeping with the opening of a second Chanel boutique in Istanbul.
In a decor worthy of an Ottoman Palace, Karl Lagerfeld revisited the bold colors and the antique golds of enamels and icons, with midnight and mineral blues, deep purples, violets and greens.
The Byzantine signature is clearly stated in tweeds interwoven with gold, satin leather, velvet, cashmere, chiffon, lace and tulle. It influences the tablions, the braids and the embroidery. The buttons are jewelled stones while the arabesque appliqués are trimmed with gold. The weave is coarse yet sophisticated, dazzling like a mosaic.
The Byzantine splendor reflects on the belts and jewelry, adorned with square glass beads, filigree gilt metal, enameling and beads, for a modern-day Theodora. The collection was fascinating for being both comfortable and luxurious, something that was also reflecting on the shoes: sparkling flat sandals with arabesque cut-outs alternated with thigh-high boots sprinkled with glass beads.