With all the shock of the new and bow to history that the rest of the Chanel universe embodies, yesterday Karl Lagerfeld delivered a Scottish-themed pre-fall extravaganza that was nothing short of an haute-Highlands tour de force.
Lagerfeld said the collection, set in a beautifully besieged castle near Edinburgh, was inspired as much by Coco Chanel's affection for Scotland, a result of her romance with the Duke of Westminster, as it was Mary Stuart, the 16th-century Scottish queen whose yarn-like plots against England's Queen Elizabeth were rewarded with a beheading. The castle and venue, Linlithgow Palace, was her birthplace and a residence of Scotland's monarchs.
To crackles from fireplaces and goblets, the cold-weather collection ranged from cozy to courtly to queenly. Led by Scottish supe Stella Tennant, out walked living Renaissance portraits in swaths of wool, layers of tartans, towers of tweeds, piles of knits, heaps of cashmere, and bits of bouclé. No stone in the pantheon of Scottish memes was left unturned.
The latest Chanel métiers d'art show, promoting the heritage, craft and artisanal skills of the house's suppliers, most of the pieces were locally produced. An avowed history buff, Lagerfeld himself dressed for the occasion in a traditional kilt.