Chanel’s fine balance

Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t do anything by halves. A runway lined with hot coals that were so convincing, people tiptoed over them after the show for fear of burning their new-season heels. Two enormous white Chanel gift boxes from which the models emerged. A foggy backdrop of an enchanted forest. Such was the setting for Chanel’s Fall 2011 runway show at Paris fashion week, and like all good Chanel shows it was suitably epic.

For the coming fall, Chanel’s girl is truly wearing the pants. At times skinny and rock-chic, at others wide legged with a dandy masculinity; even under skirts and frock-coats were there pants. Much of the time they were paired with flat, lace-up shoes or heavy boots for an even fuller masculine look. Boots that will be seen on many an off-duty model. Boots that rock. There’s also a kind of Gothic twist to it all rounding out the enchanted forest theme and culminating in mid or floor-length capes that are heavy and dark.

But while the masculine is very much in force for Chanel that doesn’t mean the feminine details are neglected. As with a number of other shows this season it’s all about the balance, and for Karl Lagerfeld that means weighing up masculine cuts with delicate fabrics, embellished takes on the classic Chanel tweed, and lashings of rich lace.

And the bags? Typically structured and chain-handelled, they’re given an antique twist by way of aged metal fittings – and overall have an understated elegance that will no doubt put them on the arm of many a Chanel girl come fall.

You can see a selection of photos from the Chanel autumn / fall 2011 / 2012 showing by clicking on the gallery below.