Back To Byzantium ... Chanel Pre-Fall 2011

Having a steamy cuppa – or champagne in a typical Chanel way – with Karl (Lagerfeld) in Chanel haute couture salon on a snowy day? Darling, every fashionista would be more than willing to part with their limbs just to seize that golden opportunity.

It would not be too much for me to say that, to be in the same room as the fashionable Kaiser himself and with a coterie of other fashion authorities is far better than any Christmas gift I’d ever received. Thus, on a cold, snowy day in Paris, lucky fashionistas and some friends of Lagerfeld were converging inside the haute couture salon of Chanel’s Rue Cambon boutique, to view Chanel’s Pre-Fall collection for next year.

Although the venue setting was rather intimate and cosy, yet one can feel the true spirit of Coco Chanel flourishing in every inch of the space, starting from the coffee tables that were fully adorned with mosaics to the luxurious gilded panels as the show’s milieu.

That atmosphere after all, was meant to match the theme of Lagerfeld’s latest collection, known as the Paris-Byzance collection. Why Paris-Byzance and what does Byzance means? Well, according to Meenal Mistry of, Lagerfeld was inspired by the Empress Theodora and the lost culture of Byzantium.

"Theodora was a circus artist who became empress,” says Lagerfeld. “Like Chanel, who was a little singer and became a fashion empress."

Kicking off with a simple ensemble of black blazer with multiple intertwined Cs buttons, black top and matching trousers adorned with silky square imprints, the Paris-Byzance Pre-Fall collection infuses the elements of Sixties fashion with intricate Byzantium-styled detailing.

In the first batch, the focus is more towards the Sixties. The shapes are simple and streamlined with monotonous colour, while the Byzantium influences being limited to the accessories. And being Chanel, tweed is mandatory and oftentimes, they come with frayed lapels.

However, the second line up of ready-to-wear sees the dominance of Byzantium influences with lots of intricate yet rich adornments in gold and coloured stones, as well as the silken aubergine hue – the same colour used by the Byzantium artisan in the mosaic portraits of Byzantium emperor Justinian 1 and Empress Theodora.

On the other hand, the menswear seems to be free from any kind of excessive embellishments and very easy to wear. Well, except for one particular look – a striped knitted sweater with gold brooches; straight tapered pants in earthy hue with gold chain belt and layered gold necklace.

As for the accessories, aside from the lavish gold-toned accessories such as the hair band and the layered necklaces, the tight-high fabric boots with flat heels and bejewelled embellishments on the vamps are going to be hot for the upcoming Pre-Fall season. And that should be another six or seven months, I assume.

But anyway, if you ask me which one that has taken my breath away; I have to say one shoulder gold lurex dress with drawstring waist. Remarkable as it seems, the fabric perfectly drapes the wearer’s body like a layer of liquid gold. And if Empress Theodora is to be brought back to life, I’m sure it’ll be the first dress that she’ll wear before making her appearance to her loyal subjects.

Chanel Pre-Fall 2011 collection will be available at Chanel boutiques and select retailers worldwide next year.

*Photos by

Chanel – Ground Floor, Suria KLCC, Jalan Ampang 55800 Kuala Lumpur.


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