May 4th, 2015. The Chanel Cruise Resort 2016 Seoul fashion show took place on a white, glossy, circuitous runway punctuated with a trail of dots reminiscent of NECCO Candy Buttons. The setting of the show perfectly complimented the themes of the collection from the fashion powerhouse – South Korea, ’90s bubblegum pop, and unclear directions.
In the days of its conception, Chanel was founded upon the fashion philosophies devised by brand matriarch – Coco Chanel. Coco was known for her taste for minimalism, little black dresses, and bending the gender-normative expectations for women’s clothing.
In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld became the creative director for Chanel. With his leadership came a new way of maximalist thinking for the fashion house’s design criteria. Lagerfeld had a penchant for incorporating glitzy and glamorous elements into classic Chanel staples like refashioning the classic 2.55 bag with a gold chain and a monogrammed Chanel CC lock embellishment. Lagerfeld’s designs were innovative in a time where a booming economy afforded fashion enthusiasts large, disposable incomes and a desire to show off their opulent purchases.
In the Chanel Cruise Resort 2016 line, Lagerfeld employs his old tactics through refashioning familiar Chanel silhouettes and staples like tweed Chanel suits and fabric, box chain bags, chunky chain jewelry, pleats, and square-toed Maryjane heels. Lagerfeld’s attempt at rejuvenating the classic looks comes from taking inspiration from current and ancient Korean culture, which through globalization and the internet has become popular with Western youths – especially the super trendy K-Pop phenomenon. High fashion is no stranger to taking inspiration from Eastern cultures – mostly borrowing from Japanese and Chinese styles.
The Eastern influence is beneficial in ways other than aesthetics. Eastern Asian countries, especially their urban areas, have a reputation for seeming futuristic, which affords Chanel the opportunity to deviate from current trends in the name of innovation ahead of its time. Juxtaposing this element with classic Chanel designs and late ’90s colors, materials, and shapes comes off as jarring in the Chanel Cruise Resort 2016 show. The mismatching elements are highlighted via the production of the show, which featured discordant synth-pop over stereotypically Asian-sounding music, intentionally clashing hairpieces, and awkward fabric attached to the bottoms of clothing.
Most coverage of the Chanel Cruise Resort 2016 show has focused on the celebrities in attendance and on Lagerfeld himself who is no stranger to controversy. The show’s foreign location and themes cemented the brand’s traditional and dated status as unattainable, and more recently, detached from current trends.