Tweed between the lines: Chanel celebrates global domination

Models on the runway during the Chanel autumn/winter ready-to-wear show at Grand Palais yesterday as part of Paris Fashion Week. photograph: Pascal le Segretain/Getty Images

Models on the runway during the Chanel autumn/winter ready-to-wear show at Grand Palais yesterday as part of Paris Fashion Week. photograph: Pascal le Segretain/Getty Images

Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 00:00

The Chanel shows in Paris are extraordinary spectacles that stop traffic and generate huge crowds both inside and outside the Grand Palais on the Champs-Élysées.

Yesterday there must have been at least 30 police cars surrounding the building along with any number of shaded limousines and black Mercedes.

There were protesters outside bearing banners with phrases such as “Chanel toxic?”. Two men attempted to breach the barricades and climb up the building.

Inside, a massive revolving globe flagging Chanel’s presence in almost every country on Earth was an obvious symbol of the fashion house’s international penetration and power.

Signature fabric

From the first floor-length coats that swept the catwalk to the richly ornate jewelled tunics that closed the show, this was the world of tweed according to Chanel. The show was a tour de force of the house’s signature fabric in dizzying new guises and in every shape imaginable. There were snowy tweeds, metallic tweeds, knobbly black tweeds and tweeds edged with patent or studded with rosettes.

With a strong emphasis on daywear, particularly suits, the lustrous and detailed handwork defined the collection.

There were no trousers, other than on a male model. Most suits had short pleated or skater-style skirts, all the better to display thigh-high patent boots draped in silver chains.

Coats had layered or curved cutaway fronts.

Widely seen all over the Paris catwalks this season, the new sloped shoulderline highlighting the waist was also much in evidence at the Chanel show in rugged tweeds or quilted patent.

Models not only carried weighty silver jewellery and the emblematic chain-handled clutches but also other bags in the shape of small orbs.

Knitwear

The knitwear, intricately meshed and patterned, was fresh and bright. One particularly lovely two-piece was a shadow-grey knit with a sparkling grey tweed skirt.

The whole collection had that mix of the familiar and the new, and it is the constant refreshing of its signature codes that makes the Chanel machine turn seamlessly on its axis season after season.

The Irish at Paris Fashion Week: Anne-Olivia Monaghan

Jazz singer, stylist and costume designer Anne-Olivia (Liv) Monaghan from Cork is a theatre and history graduate of TCD. She began working in theatre during her studies and continued after graduation. Later, she worked and studied for a time in Italy, but now lives in Paris, where she not only pursues a career as a singer but styles musicians and hosts collaborations between artists.

Last year Monaghan founded a website called Alto Figaro selling vintage menswear. Its best-selling items are designer ties from YSL, Dior, Balenciaga and Marc Jacobs. “I like getting men to dress as creatively as women do,” she says.

At the end of this month she will be adding a women’s line to the site, with her own designs as well as collaborations with other designers.