Homecoming: Chanel Pre-Fall

Homecoming: Chanel Pre-Fall

Amanda Harlech, close collaborator and friend of Karl Lagerfeld, muses on the designer's history with his hometown–the German port city of Hamburg–and on the Chanel Métiers d'Art collection it inspired.

Amanda Harlech, close collaborator and friend of Karl Lagerfeld, muses on the designer's history with his hometown–the German port city of Hamburg–and on the Chanel Métiers d'Art collection it inspired.

Photography: Schohaja

Text: Amanda Harlech

This spread appears in the pages of V113, The Music Issue, on newsstands now. Order your copy of the issue today at shop.vmagazine.com.

Karl’s city. A place he called home. Pitched between two mighty rivers, the Elbe and the Alster, this Hanseatic imperial freeport has reigned over the waves as a gateway to the world. As a young boy, Karl would have watched the ships glide out to sea from his parents’ villa high on the hillside along the sound. Their port and starboard lights would mark his own rite of passage when, following his mother’s advice, he left Germany for Paris. The mystery of that elsewhere hangs like the aroma of coffee outside the narrow red-brick merchant warehouses of the HafenCity. The docks, great fortresses of containers, still dominate the night as giant illuminated cranes freight the waiting ships. The Elbe glitters. A siren moans. Metal cleaves against metal. A city in motion. Hamburg never sleeps. Hamburg moves ever onwards, as wave follows wave. Karl knows every bend in the river, every bridge, every corner of every street. It has sung its song to him for so many years.

The art of memory has a way of filter- ing form, abstracting it before distilling the details like a negative in a dark room. Everything Hamburg meant to Karl rose out of that December fog like the ethereal ghost sail of the Herzog & de Meuron Elbphilharmonie building—courageous, beautiful, connected to its medieval past and Charlemagne’s fortress before that, and yet structurally entirely new. The Chanel Métiers d’Art show was held in the acoustic paradise of the Elbphilharmonie’s amphitheater. Music is never forgotten here, where mournful ships’ horns bellow and gulls cry. After all, this is where the Beatles started out, performing in the rope-making quarter—the Reeperbahn—the red-light district where sailors danced their pay away. The collection spilled down the steep levels of the concert hall to the melody of composer Oliver Coates’s powerful and moving exploration of sea shanties.

A naval officer, immaculate in a white pique waistcoat and midnight velvet and satin. Pitch-black attenuated silhouettes sparkling with reflected lights like the Elbe itself. Peaked fiddler caps misted with veils of tulle. Narrow black grosgrain Feininger heels and the elongated romance of dark-grey greatcoats. Jawlensky-blue cable-knit mariner sweaters and wide sailor pants. Tricot dresses and tweeds echoing the HafenCity brickwork. Karl orchestrated memories from his heart and created his dream of Hamburg. As Hudson Kroenig said to his godfather as the applause broke into cheers and bravos, “We will always remember how happy we were here.”

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SCHOHAJA
Credits: PHOTOGRAPHED BY SCHOHAJA

UP NEXT

VTV | A Signing with Dua Lipa