Chanel walks like an Egyptian in New York
Walk like an Egyptian, as the song goes. And, dress like one too this season at Chanel, which unveiled its latest Métiers d’Art collection inside the Temple of Dendur, that now stands inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Originally located along the Nile, the temple formed the ideal backdrop for these clothes, which referenced Pharaohs’ wives; Nubian princesses; graffiti hieroglyphics; and Middle Kingdom jewelry often in the most unexpected ways.
Pharaoh-like Pharrell Williams even walked this show, sauntering around in golden leather pants and boots; and matching ribbed knit tunic, finished with a jewelled necklace worthy of Tutankhamun. Clearly loving the white rimmed, elongated Cleopatra eye, courtesy of makeup artist Lucia Pica.
It earned the singer/producer an audile murmur of approval from a star-studded front-row that included Margot Robbie, Julianne Moore, Marion Cotillard, Sofia Coppola, Diane Kruger and several hundred private clients.
All perched around the ancient Egyptian temple, rescued in the '60s from destruction when the newly built Aswan Dam on the Nile would have wiped it out, Dendur was taken and rebuilt carefully inside the Met, where guests can enjoy its remarkable grace and beautiful pictograms and symbols.
“Many people don’t notice it, but New York is full of Egyptian design and art in so many buildings, which just shows how powerful a culture it was,” commented Karl Lagerfeld, in a back room of the decorative arts wing of the Met, featuring a massive fresco of Versailles, as he greeted Blake Lively and Penelope Cruz.
“Remarkable, the combination of ideas and cultures was beautiful,” enthused Cruz, dressed in a black and green feather Chanel robe.
The ornate kilts of pharaohs were also reproduced on some sumptuous skirts; burnished gold knits; fabric medallions; and checkered metallic mini dresses. The invitation featured a fine sketch by Karl of Coco in a signature Chanel suit as Lady Liberty; clutching the flame of the Statue of Liberty and wearing that goddess’ famous starred crown.
But leave it to Lagerfeld to jumble up the whole concept with a dash of NYC graffiti; mixing up Egyptian symbols, trilateral signs and numerals.
Chanel first visited America in February 1931 en route to Los Angeles, where producer Samuel Goldwyn had hired her to dress leading actresses. One of the greatest members of that profession, Katharine Hepburn, would later interpret Coco in a musical of the same name on Broadway in 1969.
The key colors were white and, above all, gold – seen in padded leather boots; royal gold leather pillbox hats or endless metal jewelry.
“Gold was a fundamental color for the Egyptians. Ideal for boots, though not for tights as that can quickly look cheap,” commented Lagerfeld inside the museum, which stands beside a massive Cleopatra obelisk.
A combination of beautiful clothes on a stellar casting; ideal clothes for a bride for Ramses III, or for a driven career woman.
Post-show, the entire audience moved on to a hipster version on an all-American dance party with hot dog stands, burger joints and nightclub bars; a vision worthy of David Lynch, set inside a massive custom-made tent in Central Park.
First, Ethiopian-American singer Kelela and a dance troop performed, before a team of all-black dancers did a hour-long vogueing performance that had the audience of 1,000 mesmerized.
They didn’t walk like Egyptians; though you know that Egyptian iconography will be back in vogue next year. The latest example of Lagerfeld still setting the fashion agenda, remarkably at the age of 85.
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