x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Imperial Lagerfeld says it with gold and jewellery

Designers who make you stop in your tracks and gaze in awe are few and far between, but Miuccia Prada immediately springs to mind because she, along with Rei Kawakubo, makes you wonder: what on earth is going on with her clothes?

Designers who make you stop in your tracks and gaze in awe are few and far between, but Miuccia Prada immediately springs to mind because she, along with Rei Kawakubo, makes you wonder: what on earth is going on with her clothes?

In contrast, John Galliano doesn't so much champion fashion as an art form as relish the fantasy and opulence of it.

Marc Jacobs hits the nail on the head when it comes to putting the spoilt-for-choice fashionista in touch with whatever she will want to wear next - which is perhaps just as much an art form.

Then there is Karl Lagerfeld, the Teutonic designer who holds the power in his gloved hand to send fashion careering off in any direction on a whim.

It's not only the excitement of the unexpected that Lagerfeld brings to the fashion world but the knowledge we are all in safe hands too. It's all very well to have left-field trends such as grunge or the clothing equivalent of the goji berry offered to us, but once Lagerfeld has put a trend through his Chanel mincing machine, we just know it will come out looking chic.

Since 1983, when the German maestro joined Chanel, he's been on a roll. This year he has yet again singled out the major commercial trends to come, from his furry, knit-friendly autumn/winter collection to his pre-fall St Tropez 1970s-revisited show last May, starring Mick Jagger's daughter, the model Georgia May.

Meanwhile, his spring/summer show, while sticking to the house DNA of tweed jackets, teamed them with tops and bottoms that looked as though they had been systematically attacked by an army of moths.

These designer "holes" are tipped to have the same effect on the high street as Kawakubo's "lace" cutouts did in the early 1980s. Having previewed most spring/summer chain store collections I can vouch this will be the case. Clothes with cut-outs and holes are hip for spring.

Last week in Paris at the final event in the global fashion calendar, Chanel's Métiers d'Art, Lagerfeld showed us yet another fashion trend. Here, at the annual display of craft ateliers owned by the French luxury house you can see what costume jewellers such as Maison Desrues are up to. I say "showed us" but perhaps I should explain that this highly exclusive event was witnessed by 180 industry figures, not the usual several thousand press and buyers who attend Chanel ready-to-wear shows.

However, the cosy event staged at the Chanel HQ will have a similar tsunami effect on clothing and accessory trends. Lagerfeld's reason for doing a Tom-Ford-style intimate show (Ford showed his spring/summer womenswear collection to a select few in September and banned photographers, determined to keep a lid on images until next month), was to give guests, including Vanessa Paradis, Clémence Poésy and Diane Kruger, a close-up befitting the ethos of luxury goods.

The thing is, though, it wasn't so much the accessories nor even the fabrics that shone as the entire Byzantine theme, not to mention the gold, which hijacked the gig.

Entitled, Paris-Byzance, this marvellous, exotic gold rush was like a welcome blast of perfumed warm air on a freezing night in the desert. Lagerfeld's show was inspired by the Empress Theodora but was really all about wearing clothes with a clank and a jangle; rich velvets and fabrics and jewellery fit for royalty. What's more, Coco Chanel would have approved. Her first collection of costume jewellery in the 1920s was also inspired by the Byzantine empire.

Models with tousled updos secured in place with bejewelled hair bands were dripping in the fineries of a bygone age, worn, Lagerfeld-style, with favourites from more recent ones (including platforms and 1960s tunic shapes).

Is it a coincidence that Chanel has just opened a shop in Istanbul (a city originally called Byzantium) or simply that now seems a great time to get gold back in fashion? Or rather gold interwoven into everything from Chanel tweeds to knits and hosiery (there's going to be lots of this, thanks to the movie Burlesque).

So that's it. Bling is back. Byzantine bling. The wearing of museum-type artifact jewellery starting with majestic dangling earrings is back in fashion. Start reading your history books.

I'm thinking Kate Middleton, hair in tousled beehive, in a Byzantine-style wedding frock by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel? Now that would be wonderful.