Ankle-Grazing: Chanel Cruise 2013-2014

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It was no “World Domination” extravaganza a la its Fall 2013 show at the Grand Palais earlier this year, but it sure meant the world to a little island called Singapore, where the House of Chanel chose to debut its 2013/2014 Cruise Collection for the first time ever in Asia on Thursday night.

And just like that, a “Double C” flag was planted on a hitherto little-known spot called the Loewen Cluster, putting the former nutmeg-plantation-turned-preserved-heritage-site on the Chanel — and world — map alongside previous cruise show venues like New York, Venice, St Tropez and Versailles. A little stardust left behind by the likes of André Leon Talley, Carine Roitfeld, Dakota Fanning, Rinko Kikuchi, Fann Wong and Super Junior’s Choi Siwon helped, too. 

It was all high fashion, high glamour and high adrenalin May 9 at the vast colonial-style black-and-white bungalow. It was a charming mise en scène complete with gravelled paths and outdoor thatched-roof bars aglow with soft tangerine-hue lights, serving some super stylish guests and more than a few famous ones champagne, wine and iced lemongrass tea.

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Inside, a high-ceilinged spartan room — furnished only by rows of boxy stools and wallpapered with peeling paint — presents a stark contrast to the building’s romantic facade, and the luxurious collection we were about to witness before the rest of the world. Explaining the unusually understated and low-key backdrop for the show, Lagerfeld reportedly told WWD: “There’s a romantic charm that new things cannot always have. It’s not (just) about the historical details, but also the mood.”

As soon as the last guest (a fashionably late Zhou Xun) was escorted in and seated and the doors closed at around 8.15pm (45 minutes past the scheduled time); as soon as the lights and music came on and the first models strut up and down a four-lane runway in a sumptuous array of tweed, pearls and a whole lot of black and white, it was clear that Karl Lagerfeld has gone back to basics, back to the very essence of Chanel’s design code. As Japanese actress Kikuchi was quoted as saying, the collection is “old-school Chanel, and yet still something new”.

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Indeed, according this new inter-season collection with the “romantic charm” of the old, tweed has been given a new spin, showing up as a full skirt suit or as a subtle feature on dresses; jackets seem to fancy a longer, hip-grazing length, while tops take on a more exaggerated silhouette with boxy shapes around the shoulder and bigger sleeves; and when it comes to skirts and wide-legged trousers, “ankle-grazing” sure looks to be the buzzword. If you still have the idea that pearls are matronly and boring, you’re obviously not wearing them the right way: The Chanel way. Here’s a little pearl of wisdom from our Front-Row perspective: Layer them in excess and abundance around the neck, insouciantly around the waist or as bracelets. Yes, when it comes to pearls, more is more; check the image above for a visual reference. Adding a softer, more feminine sentiment to the monochromatic colour scheme is a powdered palette of beige, light pink and blue.

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If you look close enough, you might be able spot a little Asian influence, too, as Lagerfeld confirmed at a post-show interview. “It’s a bit of Chanel history and a bit of influence from this part of the world,” he told WWD. Could he mean the raffia, the feathers or perhaps the Asian models?

What seemed to have really thrilled the 1,200-strong Chanel-clad crowd, surprisingly, was the “Cricket Player” look, complete with fancy shin pads, leather gloves, bats and slouchy V-neck sweaters (below). It’s cool, we’ll admit. On the ethnic-print jogging pants, on the other hand, we’re still ambivalent.

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In the accessories department, what was lacking in variety was more than made up for in size, drama and flair: Think oversized two-toned mirrored sunglasses, big chain necklaces in steel and crystals with a Double C logo draping on the nape of models’ necks and finally, the ultimate show-stopper: A clutch in the shape of the iconic Chanel No 5 perfume bottle that we are certain went straight from the runway to everyone’s wish list.

So that’s it: Ten minutes, 80 looks and one giant step closer to world domination.

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