Designs of Future Past

Karl Lagerfeld holds the key to the world’s greatest scientific feat; the time machine. Or at least that’s what appeared to be true after the debut of his Chanel Spring/Summer 2017 Collection.

As per usual, Lagerfeld transformed the Parisian showroom of the Grand Palais into a realm uniquely his own. Over the years, fashion week attendees were transported to a Chanel branded airport, supermarket, casino and Zen garden, however, this season, the show was set in the high-tech world of Lagerfeld; a dizzying maze of electric circuit-board walls and colorful wires, reflective of the inner workings of a World Wide Web server or modern data center.

It was clear that technology was the primary focus for the design house from the very start of the show, as their invitations featured two interlocking C’s made of colorful cable wires and as a coordinating pair of robots dressed in the label’s signature tweed suits opened the ready-to-wear show. Models following behind with digitized handbags and coded sunglasses failed to interrupt Lagerfeld’s mirage as well.

Courtesy of Vogue

However, behind the futuristic and technological madness of “Data Center Chanel” was a collection pieced together by classic Chanel ensembles from decades past.

Lagerfeld clearly plugged into his own data archive as the fashion house’s head designer prior to developing this innovative collection as there were sparks of the vibrant color palette of the 1980s, references to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s” 1990s vibes of tilted baseball caps and side ponytails, sneak peeks of 1920s intimates and of course, the return of Chanel staples; the tweed blouson jacket and tennis skirt.

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Courtesy of Chanel

This is nothing new in the world of fashion, however, and Lagerfeld is not alone. It is a unique yet consistent paradox as season after season, designers seek future inspiration from the glimmering past. Perhaps, it’s the one prevailing trend of the fashion industry, the sole trend that never seems to fade away.

But in recent years, this trend has been stronger than ever with designers attempting to escape the disarray of the 21st century by reverting back to fads and styles of the “good old days”.

Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2017 show could not have better represented this inclination with the opening looks of black and white tweed skirt suits, two clever reinterpretations of those filed in the 1994 Spring Ready-to-Wear Collection.

Chanel Spring 1994 Ready-to-Wear Courtesy of Vogue


Chanel Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Courtesy of Chanel

While the abundance of wires and circuit boards hinted at the high-tech atmosphere of the 21st century, the technological backdrop was a mere distraction from the rather low-tech, brilliant classicism of the collection’s software.

A similar scene was set at Prada’s Spring/Summer 2017 show, in which Miuccia Prada sent models down a metal mesh runway, surrounded by the sounds of alarming violins and screens displaying excerpts from a film playing backward and forward. It was a rather chaotic scene.

Courtesy of Vogue

“It was set to a score of increasingly urgent violins and against the backdrop of vignettes from a film collaboration with the director David O. Russell that forced viewers’ eyes to jump spasmodically between the catwalk and screen,” wrote The New York Times fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman.

Clearly, Prada was making a statement here as the confusion in the backdrop represented the bombardment of clutter and chaos in society today. However, like Lagerfeld, her collection spoke louder.

Full of Prada’s greatest hits, the collection represented a simplified and decluttered return to form, and more importantly a return to Prada.

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Courtesy of Vogue

The time traveling show was kicked off by the minimalistic black tank and wrapped skirt belted at the waist, which was representative of the techno-stretch uniform of the 1990s and enlightened viewers on her pursuit of simplicity.

Glimpses of the “frumpy chic” look of the 1970s quickly traipsed behind in the form of belted plaid jackets and skirts with ’70s-inspired colors and prints, followed by Chinese silk pajama suiting, 1960s car coats and dresses, as well as 1940s knickers. Prada’s passion for a 1920s and 1930s Deco-graphic print also made an appearance. This time, as a mid-length fit-and-flare, flirty dress.

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Courtesy of Vogue

The return of classic Prada concocted perhaps one of Miuccia’s greatest collections yet.

Despite the lack of technology on Michael Kors’ runway, it is quite clear that the designer received the metaphorical time machine memo as well for his Spring/Summer 2017 Collection. In an interview with Vogue, Kors confessed his belief that fashion can change your spirit and lift your mood.

“When the world is upside down, I kind of feel like the thing to do is not to hunker down and get said,” he said. “I want to figure a way to lift people’s spirits.”

What better way to lift the spirits of the show’s attendees by serenading them with Judy Garland’s “Get Happy” and fresh, vibrantly colored looks of lime green, grapefruit pink or turquoise?

Courtesy of Vogue

However, Kors’ greatest success at this season’s show, was his strategic designing that captured the spirits of “dames”, Barbara Stanwyck, Katherine Hepburn, and Kim Basinger. Nearly every signature look from the decades past adorned the designer’s fleet of celebrity models from the 1940s to the 1980s. Vivid florals, belted pant suits and peephole-neck jumpsuits were reminiscent of the 1970s, while bathing bombshell bikinis with high waisted bottoms paired with classic bra tops brought the 1940s back to life.

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Courtesy of Vogue

And of course, there is no Michael Kors show without the some variation of the archival trench coat, which appeared in a variety of forms on the joyful runway.

Courtesy of Vogue

Similar to Lagerfeld and Prada, the brilliance of Kors’ collection was in the paradox formed between the classicism of the brand and their forward thinking of society.


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