By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
LEADING FRENCH fashion house Chanel wowed local fashionistas last week with a first for Bangkok – a spectacular showing of the label’s Cruise Collection 2018/2019 on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.
The collection designed by Karl Lagerfeld made its debut in May at the stately Grand Palais in Paris. The Bangkok show was a little less grandiose but equally as vibrant, with Pier No 5 on Chareon Nakhon Road chosen to reflect the French-Thai “Chanel Sabai Style” for a warmer climate clientele as well as chic travellers.
From sailor’s trousers to light fabrics, from seaside stripes to espadrilles, the event featured the Chanel’s Cruise spirit, championed since 1919 when Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel became the first designer to offer collections for sunny holiday destinations.
For this second iteration of the collection, guests were invited to rendezvous at the prestigious Mandarin Oriental Hotel where they happily mingled and pondered where the tenders would take them for the show, the venue of which was set to be a surprise.
Among the passengers boarding the traditional Thai boats to cross the river were Chanel ambassadors Lily Rose Depp, Tilda Swinton, Caroline de Maigret, Soo Joo Park, Pharrell Williams and Gaspard Ulliel along with Hong Kong actress Angela Yuen and Taiwanese singer 9M88. Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana was also in attendance as the guest of honour.
Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, models Aokbab and Linn Mashannoud, actors Nittha Jirayungyurn and Anne Thongprasom joined the celebrity guests as they disembarked at the disused Sermsuk warehouse, re-imagined for the occasion as a playful marina and named Pier No 5. As might be expected for an event of this calibre, security was tight and admission tightly controlled.
Upon arrival at the landlocked deck of the whimsical cruise ship La Pausa, the ambience was chic and cheerful, with light fabrics and fluid silhouettes deferring to a top travel destination in the tropics.
Models showed off the lighter and comfortable candy-coloured fashions in cotton, silk and the House’s iconic tweeds, echoing Coco Chanel’s visions for those spending time yachting and in spa towns, seaside resorts and sun-drenched destinations. Outfits inspired by sailor suits were revisited in woollen jersey, then in silk jersey. Soft and fluid, they were practical for daily wear but never lost that established Chanel allure.
“My earliest memory isn’t of a boat, but of the sound of a boat”, Karl Lagerfeld told the press at the launch of the collection in Paris.
Tweed dresses were narrow and ultra-short, flirting with the line of a tunic. The iconic jacket, fastened with La Pausa stamped buttons, morphed into a double-breasted blazer dress and could be worn alone or with a white pleated skirt. Larger jackets hid tweed miniskirts beneath them. Tweed outfits had rounded, voluminous shoulders and were worn over skater skirts. The suit also made a return adorned with flat pleats, accompanied by a little skirt, carrot-leg trousers as well as Capri pants. Dresses in tweed or cotton poplin came with an accentuated high waist and were finished with smocking. Crop tops in crepe de Chine printed with cruise liners and roses were coupled with fluid trousers while long lightweight coats in cotton were embroidered with escaping multicoloured threads, echoing the streamers thrown down to the dock at the moment of departure.
Berets, round sunglasses, precious cuffs, fingerless gloves, sautoirs and beaded belts were among the accessories adding an extra dose of chic. The bags in whites, blues and pinks, seemed to have also set sail – the largest were supple and swathed in netlike rope, others were held with rope straps and the saddle bags were beach-ready in printed waxed canvas.
Bound by blue, red, pink and white feathers, little strappy dresses sprang to life. Gasps of wonder could be heard at the suit woven from multicolour threads in the style of tweed.
For evening, Lagerfeld suggested grand pleated dresses in crepe de Chine or printed chiffon, and a long sheath dress buttoned all the way, with ruffles sharpened like watery blades. Crop tops and their godet skirts in black fishnet or navy-and-white crochet revisited the sailor spirit, while the skirts lengthened into long dresses with black and white entirely sequinned stripes or in a speckled tweed. Backs were left nude as dresses worked with tails draped from the bust to the lower back, and on the sheath dresses in mesh fishnet embellished with aqua, white and coral sequinned chevrons. A final sheath dress, with a wide belt, was completely sequinned and hand painted with “waves of love and the sea”, as described by Karl Lagerfeld.
And with the night falling and a sky kissed by stars, the good ship La Pausa was made for dancing. Local hip-hop heroes Thaitanium featuring Srei were there to up the entertainment quota, Soo Joo Park acted as DJ, and fellow Chanel ambassador Pharrell Williams took to the stage for the first time in the country.
The luxury fashion house marked its debut in Bangkok with a panel style talk dubbed “L’Allure de Chanel” led by three close friends of the House –model, author, entrepreneur, and brand ambassador Caroline de Maigret, model Soo Joo Park, and Amanda Sanchez, who has been the Chanel in-house model for more than 17 years.
The discussion shed light on the women’s history with the House and how Chanel has influenced the evolution of their style. Sanchez told the audience that she likes to see the whole process from the first sketch to real life.
“In Chanel, everything starts from Karl’s sketches. The full silhouette, and then we have the passionate people who work towards the same goal to make the perfect clothes. That makes the energy. I also like the graphics and the movement when you walk. It’s like you look at the black dress and see all the details. You may not be the sexiest woman in the room but you are certainly the most interesting. There is something intellectual about it,” she said.
“I have a hard time describing my style but I like to have fun and take chances and do my research and see my options before finalise my outfits,” Soo Joo explained. “I love the black jacket and am always drawn to costume jewellery.”
A Parisian to her core, Maigret added that she loves the passion and the sophistication of the brand and prefers to work around one statement piece then choose accessories that enhance it to create the elegant and efficient look.
And finally, in a gesture that young Thai fashion students will remember for years to come, Chanel invited those attending courses at Sasin School of Management, Chulalongkorn University, Mahidol University International College, Assumption University, Raffles International College, Bunka, and the alumni programme of Istituto Marangoni to discover the savoir faire inherent to Chanel by viewing the 2018/19 Cruise collection up close. The masterclass was led by the brand’s president of Fashion Activities Bruno Pavlovsky and Tyler Brule, editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine.
BANGKOK GETS SMARTER
- Until the end of this month, the public is invited to travel through the Cruise 2018/19 collection through unique animations adjoining the label’s boutiques in Bangkok.
- In front of Chanel’s Siam Paragon boutique, visitors can explore the collection’s theme of a whimsical cruise ship, strolling on the Pier No 5 and admiring a lighthouse in the brand’s iconic black-and-white colour palette. A smokestack structure has been revisited as an exhibition space complete with screening room.
- At Central Embassy boutique, five masts recall sailing ships while evoking words musing on the cruise theme. This voyage begins on a path patterned in the blue and white stripes of the mariniere top that Gabrielle Chanel famously wore as early as the 1920s.