The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boxy tweed jacket lays claim to Chanel unisex legacy

Paris, March 5 (Reuters): Coco Chanel was raiding her boyfriend’s wardrobe as far back as the 1930s, and today her successor Karl Lagerfeld unveiled a boxy tweed jacket that aims to be fashion’s equivalent to 501 jeans or unisex perfume.

Male and female models paraded in interchangeable blazers in giant tartan tweed or knobbly wool with a glistening black trim. “Coco filched a lot from men’s dressing rooms,” Lagerfeld said in a statement.

“Some men — and I should say, boys — could wear some of these clothes just as they wear lots of things today which have abandoned the frontiers between menswear and womenswear.”

Chanel’s designs helped set the fashion tone for the 20th century. It is no easy feat to subvert the iconic Chanel jacket, which conjures images of starlets and dowagers alike. There was something undeniably fey about the teenage boys in suit jackets that could have belonged to their mother.

Fortunately, there was plenty more to pick from in the display on the third day of the Paris autumn-winter ready-to-wear collections, which was also due to feature creations by Givenchy and Alexander McQueen.

Lagerfeld gave skiwear a chic twist for day and dressed down evening clothes with a sportswear touch. A black puffa jacket came with detachable jacquard sleeves and a matching knitted camellia brooch. Geometric patterns popped up on loosely cut tweed skirt suits with matching newsboy caps.

Splashes of bold colour included a fluorescent yellow poloneck sweater, worn under a lacy black blouse with skintight leather ski trousers that may not cut it on the slopes, but were perfect for apres-ski posing.

Meanwhile, slinky black evening gowns were given little pockets in front — just big enough for a stick of lip balm.

Guests at Dries Van Noten’s show late on Thursday arrived with a pocketful of diamonds and left with stars in their eyes.

The Belgian designer — who made his mark in 1991 when he staged a Paris show of his men’s ready-to-wear collection — sent the fake gems with his show invitation and then dazzled his audience with row upon row of disco glitter balls, which sent rays of light dancing across velvet curtains at the Fine Arts School on the Left Bank.

However, those expecting a parade of showgirls were sorely disappointed. Models ambled past in heavy wool coats and pyjama silk jackets inspired by Bloomsbury set writer Virginia Woolf.

British model Erin ’Connor struck a languid note in a billowing velvet devore caftan with black and grey geometric patterns running over a flowery pink and peach print. There was subtle glamour in a black skirt with deep pleats splitting open to reveal a silver starburst motif. It was a pity the trousers all came in the same awkward midcalf length.

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