LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPY
Karl Lagerfeld calls sequined leggings at 245 affordable. Not exactly how I'd describe his new collection!
Karl Lagerfeld had a bit of a fashion moment last week. His couture show was conducted in the enormous and freezing Grand Palais.
The setting was an intergalactic jet, with stars including Cameron Diaz, Diane Kruger and Vanessa Paradis, wearing a satin nightie, seated in Club Class (one wag joked he couldn’t find his sick bag).
The set was extravagant, but par for the course: in the past, we’ve been treated to a giant ice sculpture and a recreation of the boutique on Rue Cambon, along with a cobbled street.
The clothes felt very early Sixties and came in many shades of pale blue, with a neckline as wide as the models’ hips, which on second thoughts isn’t really saying that much.
Jet set: Karl Lagerfeld walks the runway following his Chanel show
The dresses were youthful, with a waist dropped so low, said the designer, that when the models put their hands in their pockets, ‘they look like boys whose jeans are slipping off’. A typical Lagerfeld comment, hot on the heels of his observation of the Royal Wedding that most of the guests had ‘fat thighs’.
Now, Coco Chanel herself was androgynous, with her fondness for mannish tailoring and wide pants — but at least she aped men not boys. Her purpose in life was to liberate women from their corsets.
The Lagerfeld dresses are so skimpy and unstructured that the body has to be perfect, which was never Coco Chanel’s intention.
The couture collection for spring/summer 2012 was, of course, beautiful, with the final parade of long gowns bound to be fought over for the Oscars. The bell sleeves might make ordinary women feel bulky, but then, at 30,000-plus for an evening gown, these clothes are not meant for us.
No, Karl Lagerfeld has other plans for the great unwashed. Last week, he launched KARL, his more affordable collection of ready-to-wear clothes. In Paris, it is sold from a series of salons in an hotel on the Left Bank.
For the launch party, he served caviar, foie gras and lobster, with every guest given an iPad, engraved with his logo and loaded with the commercial for the new brand.
The launch in London was a little more low-key — we were invited to stand and gawp at a video in freezing Covent Garden, drinking lattes with tiny cardboard Karl collars — but the hype was enormous.
Unstructured: Lagerfeld's latest collection for Chanel features wide necks, dropped waistlines and low pockets
‘Following weeks of speculation,’ buzzed the press release (really), ‘the hotly anticipated modern and accessible line KARL will be unveiled with a co-ordinated global launch —with pop-up shops, a KARL app, and a Find Karl maze game.’
The line is sold here exclusively by the online retailer net-a-porter.com. Now, I love Net-a-Porter and its sister site, The Outnet. I have given them reams of press, without being given so much as an old Walkman. But my request to see the collection in the flesh was turned down.
And so I had to buy a selection of clothes, try them on and send them back. Returns, as we all know, are the death knell for online sites but, and I apologise, it gave me no choice.
I went pale as I saw all the money disappearing from my bank account. This collection might be deemed accessible, but it is wildly expensive.
There are some really lovely, affordable pieces that are very Chanel, and wearable for those of us who are not 20 years old and in possession of a supermodel’s inside leg measurement. A black twill-trimmed crepe blazer, 225, and a stretch jersey black dress with signature white collar, 195, are good value (both have sold out).
For the masses: Some of the outfits available from Lagerfeld's online fashion collection available from website net-a-porter
I ordered a back shoulder bag (pictured right), which at 295 is half what you would pay for a Mulberry and a third what you’d pay for real Chanel: soft and super quality.
Super quality: The KARL shoulder bag
I absolutely love a biker dress, which has a curvaceous shape, and is 225 (less than something by Mary Portas).
I imagine every trustafarian in West London will snap up the myriad biker jackets: I ordered the cream biker (pictured below left), which I thought will be lovely for spring.
It is cut very short, sadly with a viscose lining, but otherwise is buttery soft, and would go over a long evening gown, jeans or a pencil skirt. But, at 685, it, too, will have to be returned (the cotton version, at 255, sold out over the weekend).
Other than this smattering of wearable garments, though, I found the collection to rely too heavily on the DVT-inducing super skinny pant in sequins. I bought his sequin leggings, at 245 (pictured below right), but found them nowhere near as flattering as the ones I already have: 40 silver slouchy pants by Kookai, and silver leggings by Les Chiffoniers at Browns, about 300.
There are really grungey, baggy vests with Karl’s profile etched, rather incongruously, I would have thought, on your breasts.
can buy Chanel-esque stiff collars (125), which I guess if you are 12,
or Alexa Chung, and want to wear them with a T-shirt, might be
But high top sneakers In silver For 295 PVC shorts And a pair of creepy cutaway leather gloves for 50
Too expensive: A leather biker jacket for 685 and 245 sequined leggings from the new range
It all feels a little bit Topshop for me. Or Karl Lagerfeld for H&M, way back in 2004.
Designer Karl’s surname was Lagerfelt, but he changed it to Lagerfeld as ‘it sounds more commercial
But my main gripe, aside from the price tags and the fact he served foie gras, is that there is nothing new and fresh here at all. Not one new idea, simply some that have been recycled or reduced, like a particularly pungent chicken stock.
You might wonder how Lagerfeld, who was born in Hamburg in 1938, finds the energy to design yet another brand, given he not only helms Chanel, but also Fendi, and has an interiors line, too.
And herein lies the rub. Why produce such a large collection of more than 70 pieces I would always prefer a few impeccable staples that have been done really, really well.
I feel Karl or, sorry, KARL, is railing at the constraints at Chanel, where he’s reigned since 1983.
At his couture shows, I have often gazed at the customers in the front row — all of whom have passports that say they are over 60 (showing a photo ID is a requisite as you file into the Palais), but faces that are curiously frozen in time — and wondered how they feel as they look upon the 16-year-olds parading the gamine and the mini and the sheer.
It is an odd, fantastical, delusional dance, and you won’t find that sentence written anywhere else.
My goodness, but then all the other journalists would be forced to return that lovely limited edition iPad!
‘It’s so slim!’ gasped one Parisienne as she was handed hers.
Which just about sums up this whole collection in one.