The Collective /SHARE
Chanel’s Highland Fling
A show destined for the history books if ever there was one. Amidst the torch-lit ruins of Scotland’s Linlithgow Palace, Karl Lagerfeld presented his latest Paris-Edimbourg Metiers d'Art collection as snowflakes fell at the austere birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, some six centuries on.
Fusing Coco Chanel’s love of Fair Isle knits, Scottish tartan and of course, Highland wool tweed (all borrowed from her lover, the Duke of Westminster, who kept many a Scottish abode in the 1920s), Lagerfeld delicately wove these legendary Chanel codes into a modern masterpiece that elegantly tinkered with Tudor tendencies. Heralded as one of his finest efforts to date, the collection’s conception was very much inspired by Chanel’s recent acquisition of the Barrie knitwear mill, which now joins the Métier d’Art stable. (Barrie specialise in high quality cashmere and have been the skilled knitters behind Chanel’s two-tone cardigans the past 25 years.)
Perching on purpose built wooden benches covered with Chanel-ified woolen blankets, the presentation began with Stella Tennant marching to a snare drum beat, as we began to tick off Karl’s seductive trend spin-offs – starting with traditional sporrans, spunked up with metal tassels and accompanying whisky hip-flasks to plaid jeans, argyle-patterned tights, pleated lace collars, pearl drop earrings, chain-edged berets, ¾ length pleated skirts and skorts, quilted bodices and bagged hem dresses. These were all decadently paired with a more is more approach to accessorising from pom poms to knitted cuffs and Medieval-inspired jeweled belts and headwear.
And then came the finale of knitted white cashmere, lace and feathered (by Lemarie) gowns, encrusted with tiny pearls from the Lesage atelier. Resembling ghosts, the girls circled the smoke-spoiled quadrant with their high-neckled lace collars and Tudor-esque hair, plaited and jeweled into piled mounds.
However, this return to Scotland would end far better for Chanel’s awed guests, than that of Mary Stuart, who was beheaded in 1587 for treason.
Following the show, the warmly tartan, tweed and velvet clad party of 250, were ushered through a blackened sandstone archway that dropped away to the silhouettes of six kilted bagpipers as a heavy blue fog descended from the nearby loch. Meters below lay a twinkling settlement of glass roofed, peaked tents, joined by a floating fire lit pathway. Inside, a medieval-style banquet awaited, set across custom-built calved wooden tables that were laced with figs, grapes, pomegranates and dripping candles and laid with heavy beaten silverware and grand goblets. The five course meal incorporated local specialties from Haggis canapés to an assiette of meat – including rabbit pie, hog cheeks, sheep cutlet and buck deer sausage for which King Henry VIII would have been proud - before 19-year-old British bard Jake Bugg started the after party, as the cloud crept lower over the moors.