SINGAPORE - The first major international fashion label runway show in Singapore ‒ the Chanel Cruise 2013-14 collection ‒ opened with a seeming homage to the days of British colonialism as models wafted down the extremely long runway bearing cricket bats and wearing artfully disheveled white knits.
Opening looks from Chanel Cruise 2013-14 featured cricket bats and pads. Images: Wesley Kow
Mixing menswear and womenswear looks, designer Karl Lagerfeld also deftly intertwined Mademoiselle Chanel's penchant for sportswear into the opening looks of the collection. The soft, louche-looking knits and wide-legged pants then morphed into more tailored shapes echoing the early 1900s of his film for the brand, "Once Upon A Time … Deauville 1913", with double-breasted blazers bearing wide-lapels worn with wide-legged pants or ankle-grazing straight skirts.
Staying mostly true to the grand dame's de rigueur black and white colour scheme, apart from the odd touch of deep navy blue, some pink embroidery, and very muted pastel neutrals, the day-wear became more formal via long-skirted versions of the classic Chanel suit ‒ perfect for afternoon tea at Raffles Hotel in the 1910s perhaps?
Coco Chanel's beloved tweed ‒ another hallmark of the house ‒ also made an appearance as a long-skirt suit for women and a double-breasted suit for men and as a seeming print on loose pants and cropped, midriff-baring tops. The most extreme in cut was seen on model-of-the-moment Cara Delevingne (pictured below far right) who looked a bit like a child dressed up in her mother's pajamas.
Sweatpants at Chanel? Images: Wesley Kow
A sportswear influence returned in printed sweatpants; wasn’t it Karl Lagerfeld who said "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants"? Obviously if they’re Chanel sweatpants it’s a victory rather than a defeat to wear them.
An almost denim-like woven fabric blended sportswear with something more formal with tailored jackets and more wide-legged pants. More sportswear returned briefly with a knitted swimsuit and matching over-jacket and a number of almost 1960s style canvas pieces, including a zippered jumpsuit ‒ driving overalls for early open-top cars perhaps, like the one that appeared in the Coco film ‒ before giving way to the final series of elegant eveningwear pieces.
Swimsuits and canvas at Chanel Cruise 2013-14. Images: Wesley Kow
Moving into evening wear, lace made an appearance as first a shorts-suit, then later as a men’s evening jacket. As the evening wear took centre stage there were elegant separates consisting of long, “mullet” skirts worn with silk blouses and lashings of pearls; fitted dresses, also long, with open backs; some very 1910 dresses of chiffon and silk crepe with dropped waists or pleats, before seguing into a series of embellished, glittery pieces.
These pieces were mainly separates again; tops with sleeves a little reminiscent of The Philippines’ national dress and a loose “sam foo” style jacket were the first real references to Asian culture in the whole collection. Two men’s jackets appeared with “Mao”-style collars and closures.
Evening separates and dresses at Chanel Cruise 2013-14. Images: Wesley Kow
An odd note was struck by a couple of 60s go-go dresses in what appeared to be crochet; obviously designed for a day on the beach. These were followed by more beaded pieces in black and white worn loosely over more wide-legged pants.
A few Asian influences mixed with 'go-go' dresses at Chanel Cruise 2013-14.
Images: Wesley Kow
Finally the glamour really began with a sexy, fitted black dress ‒ still at the ankle-grazing skirt length ‒ followed by a couple of dresses in tulle with layered frothy, yet structured, frills adding volume to shoulders or ankles. More volume came from over-stitched layers of fabric again focusing on the ankles, or as in one case, all-over as Delevingne once again mooched down the runway in an oversized, boxy-cut jacket-dress.
Sequined gowns gave an added dose of luxury to the final looks, either in black off-set with white, wide lapels or in all-black broken only by silver jewellery, the lines long and lean with signature Chanel boxy jackets and bracelet sleeves. The final few looks moved into the 1920s; long white silk, sleeveless dresses with ruching and knee-high slits were bedecked in yet another house signature ‒ long ropes of pearls.
Stunning evening gowns closed the Chanel Cruise 2013-14 show in Singapore.
Images: Wesley Kow
Ironically there were very few bags on show; considering the brand is well-known for its iconic bags, apart from the few small clutches in beige or black ‒ which come with a long strap to sling over your shoulder, turning it into a handy shoulder bag ‒ and one small, mini audere in the shape, and marked with the logo, of the Chanel Noir parfum bottle, there are few options for accessories lovers in the Cruise 2013-14 collection. The shoes were very plain, mostly mid-height pumps or flats with the iconic black toe but with an interesting heel ‒ basically it looked like it had a knot tied in it.
It seems obvious that Lagerfeld was influenced more by Mademoiselle Chanel’s early history, as recorded in his new film, than by anything to do with Singapore as a modern nation state. Unlike the previous Chanel collections that were held outside of Paris and were more heavily based on the country’s culture, Cruise 2013-14 focused more on the brand’s own heritage.
The Kaiser: Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld surrounded by fans at the close of the Chanel Cruise 2013-14 collection show. Image: Wesley Kow
Was the addition of cricket bats, pads and sloppy sweaters to the collection a nod to Singapore’s colonial heritage and a deliberate choice, or merely yet another reference to Coco’s anglophile nature?
All in all, Chanel Cruise 2013-14 is a very wearable collection. Barring the one midriff on full show, women of all shapes, sizes and ages will find something that appeals to them, emphasising just why major fashion houses continue their Cruise collections; there’s always something to buy.
Chanel boutiques in Singapore are located at Takashimaya Shopping Centre and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. For more information about Chanel, go to www.chanel.com. Follow Chanel on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chanel and on Twitter at @CHANEL.