It’s true. There are times when material objects overwhelm me with an intense desperation of want, so that I could be swayed to spend an unreasonable amount of money just to have said object immediately in my possession. More often than not, those objects happen to be works of contemporary art, or works of Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld must have known this when envisioning his Spring 2014 RTW collection presentation, which was set in an enormous, self-created art gallery in the Grand Palais filled with similarly enormous artworks, all 75 of which were created by Karl himself. “The idea came from people who overreact to art today. It’s all become a little too much,” Lagerfeld said during a preview, according to WWD. He made small-scale pieces over the course of the summer that were then replicated by his team into the large-scale paintings and sculptures that lined the white walls of the runway. The works each referenced iconic motifs of the Chanel brand — though some more obviously than others, such as the logo dripping with pearls and the bottle of No. 5.
While the display of his art might have had a satirical undertone, there is no doubt that the 89 looks in the collection were just as much works of art as the paintings on the walls of a museum. Particularly, as Style.com’s Tim Blanks noted, “transformations the Chanel atelier achieved with the signature tweeds were nothing short of art. In fact, they weren’t even tweed as we know it: They were some indefinable multi-processed hybrid of de- and reconstructed stuff that was then mounted on tulle to create outfits that were identifiable as iconic Chanel.” Try educating the sales staff at Saks or Bergdorfs in how to explain that intricate process to a customer. Infusing art into his collection even further, his color palette inspiration stemmed from the bold hues in a vintage paint sample board, which was itself even reproduced as a print in the collection. Watch the entire presentation here, and then comment below on your take on the debate, “is fashion art?”