Walk like an Egyptian

With the Temple of Dendur rising in the background, Karl Lagerfeld presented Chanel Métiers d’Art 2018/19 collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one of the leading cultural venues in the big Apple. Every year, Chanel selects a city linked to its history for the presentation of collection that spotlights the savoir faire and the creativity of Chanel’s artistic director. For the Pre-Fall of 2019, Monsieur Lagerfeld takes us to Egypt with the help of most talented fournisseurs working for the iconic house. Contemporary hieroglyphs coupled with street style details, fish-tail silhouettes and subtle tweed perfectly portray a shiny, glamorous and unique version of ancient Egypt. A lover of lavish spectacles, Lagerfeld presented prodigious highlights: super-scale jackets, ankle-length sheath dresses, dramatic shoulders, layering and a lot of gold.

Gold shimmered all over the runway, as models strolled past the floodlit temple in everything from gold thigh-high boots to gold brimmed hats to glistening dresses with golden feather adornments, to shoulder-length gold earrings. There was also some distressed denim, and definitely some signature tweed, but Egyptian-style bling was the order of the day. One particularly stunning shoulderless gown looked like an Egyptian mosaic, with interlocking “tiles” in the Egyptian color palette of light and dark blues, red, and of course, gold.

The handiwork involved in the garments was displayed in brief videos posted by Chanel on Instagram ahead of the show, from artisans’ ateliers, or workshops: metalwork and jewelry-making from Goossens, pleating from Lognon, feather and flower adornments from Lemarie, embroidery from Montex, costume jewelry from Desrues, embroidery and tweed from Lesage, Massaro shoes, and golden Maison Michel hats. The show came only hours after the French fashion house announced it was renouncing the use of exotic skins like crocodile, lizard and snake in future collections, because they were difficult to source ethically. Effectively that means animal fur as well, which the house has used rarely.

Egypt has cast a spell over fashion designers for years, but never has a collection illustrate Egyptian culture as much as Lagerfeld’s febrile vision of the ancient world. I thoroughly enjoyed each reference, innovation and exquisite craftsmanship.

Photo credit: Vogue