‘The Modernity of Antiquity’

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It’s not every day that I get to write about runway fashion or to watch a parade of exquisitely beautiful and sinuous women dressed in Greek designs and motifs from every period from the archaic to the high classical. For this reason, I simply can’t let this year pass by without doffing my cap to Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel’s latest Cruise 2018 collection entitled “La Modernité de l’Antiquité” (The Modernity of Antiquity). As a tribute to ancient Greek design, this parade was truly stunning and if you haven’t seen the video yet, it’s well worth watching (see link below).

Lagerfeld created a backdrop that had me pressing my nose up against the screen for a better look. The Doric columns were so realistic, the placement of the fallen blocks so skilful, the runway scattered with fine white gravel, the olive tree perfectly placed and a sunset backdrop that looked like a scene shot at Cape Sounion in Greece. It’s hard to believe that Lagerfeld created all this within the Grand Palais in Paris. The backdrop was so stunning that I can even forgive the Vogue writer Steff Yotka for confusing Doric and Ionic columns (Doric columns don’t have a scroll at the top sweetheart).

But let’s get onto the designs, oh the designs! I simply loved the knitted fabrics, evoking Penelope-style tapestries with fringes and tassels. The fine embellishments of gold, green and silver threads with the modern additions of pockets, buttons and hoods. I delighted in the archaic-style printed dresses embellished with lines, waves, palmette and key motifs, in dark terracotta shades, blacks and greys. I adored all the trappings and trimmings, so seductive and so evocative: the gold spiral arm bands, the long black flowing ribbons, the elaborate gold headbands, bold beaded necklaces, the bracelets and chokers. I even came to like the exaggerated column-heeled sandals in every imaginable colour from black to bright orange.

I think I may have held my breath for the entire segment devoted to the ‘goddesses’. I just didn’t want to miss any of the beautiful flowing robes or fabrics. Hollywood costuming on ancient world themes can be pretty sumptuous but this was real fashion. The golden clasps at the shoulder, the flowing drapery, the multiple ribbon ties at the waist, all so exquisite and romantic. One could be forgiven for mistaking a Vittoria, Kiki or Arizona for an Atalanta, Circe, and Calypso. Lagerfeld has clearly been studying ancient Greek pottery and statues. In this collection, he stayed true to principles of ancient beauty but gave them a modern edge.

According to Vogue, the inspiration for this collection came from a bust of Venus sitting on the mantelpiece in Coco Chanel’s apartment. In Lagerfeld’s words:

“The criteria of beauty in ancient, then classical, Greece still hold true. There have never been more beautiful representations of women. Or more beautiful columns.”

Thank you Chanel for continuing the ancient Greek commitment to beauty and the perfect form! And Karl, if you ever need a classicist to promote and wear any items from the collection, you are looking at a very willing size 10 candidate.

Link to Vogue article: https://www.vogue.com/article/chanel-resort-2018-fashion-show

Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmvFYuXB9Sg

Link to Harper’s Bazaar article: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/fashion-week/g9604272/chanel-cruise-show-2018/

 

 

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