An ancient Egyptian temple at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art provided the setting for Chanel‘s latest catwalk show, when the French fashion house debuted a collection featuring glittering tweeds, golden garments and bold jewels.
The catwalk looped The Met‘s Temple of Dendur – an Ancient Egyptian monument completed in 10BC – to create an appropriate setting for the debut of Chanel‘s 2018/19 Métiers d’art collection earlier this week.
With a taste for elaborate shows, creative director Karl Lagerfeld chose the decorative sandstone temple to provide the backdrop for the presentation, as well as inform the Egyptian-style aesthetic of the pieces.
“Egyptian civilisation has always fascinated me: I get inspired by an idea, which I make a reality,” said Lagerfeld in a project statement.
Floating regal garments, bold geometric prints and lavishly colourful accessories featured throughout the collection, along with plenty of golden garments in sparkling, shimmering and crackled textures.
Beige, white and black tweeds – a Chanel staple – are threaded with mohair, gold and beaded cotton.
“I think the image of this collection is very much down to this refinement which should be seen close up, almost touched, to understand how it is done and to really appreciate the beauty of this work,” said Lagerfeld, who also drew on the antiquities for pieces in his first sculptural exhibition.
Other motifs included the Ancient Egyptian scarab beetle, which can be seen a necklace, buttons, belt buckle, earrings and handbags, while the models’ makeup resembled the Eye of Horus.
American music producer Pharrell Williams – who is set to collaborate with Chanel – was adorned with the facial marking while modelling baggy gold trousers and a bejewelled jumper.
Other features of this year’s garments were intended asa nod to New York, including street-art-style graphics on printed t-shirts, and a patched denim two-piece worn by model Kaia Gerber. “New York, it’s an energy and a melting pot of cultures, it’s very stimulating,” said Lagerfeld.
The presentation at The Met marks the 17th edition of the annual Métiers d’art showcase, which always takes place in December outside of the seasonal shows. Each year, a different city provides both the setting and the influence, with previous locations including Tokyo, Monte Carlo, London, Moscow and Shanghai.
Chanel produces Métiers d’art to celebrate its collaborations with art houses and manufactures in Europe. Twenty-six makers, which include embroiderers, goldsmiths, pleaters and milliners, form Chanel’s Paraffection subsidiary – launched to foster and preserve artisan craft.
“It is made in a very artisanal way in the best sense of the word, because in artisanal, there is art,” said Lagerfeld. “The art of doing it well. An applied art. And it really is astounding,” said Lagerfeld,
Making the most of this craft, a number of designs were detailed to take on the guise of exotic animal skins, including a resin plastron, and glass casts and golden leaves that look like the skin of a crocodile – following the news that the house plans to ditch the controversial material.
Chanel, which was founded by fashion designer Coco Chanel in 1909, has become known for it elaborate catwalk sets directed by industry icon Lagerfeld. For example, the brand has previously turned the historic Grand Palais in Paris into a data centre, featuring models dressed as robots.
The showcase at The Met is particularly monumental, as it is only the second fashion brand to host a show at the museum, following Valentino in 1982.
However, the institution is closely aligned with the fashion world, hosting the annual The Met Gala as a highlight of the industry’s calendar. Officially known as the Costume Institute Benefit, the themed event aligns with the major fashion exhibit that the Fifth Avenue museum opens each spring.
Last year’s Heavenly Bodies exhibition praised fashion and Catholicism, while the has revealed that next year it will explore the ostentatious and humorous aesthetic of “camp”.