Friday, 9 February 2018

Chanel Up Close

A beautifully encrusted Chanel haute couture dress
Tonight after dinner, my friend and I happened to be near PMQ or Police Married Quarters on Aberdeen Street above Hollywood Road, when I remembered there was a Coco Chanel exhibition there. Lucky we caught it because it closes tomorrow!

When we arrived there wasn't much of a line, though we had to scan a QR code and tediously register online in order to get in free of charge. The first part of the show featured local artists' interpretation of the legendary Paris-based designer.

This white wedding top is completely beaded
While it's nice to have these kinds of overseas shows invite local artists to participate, the pieces themselves seemed forced... perhaps because the local artists have no affiliation with a brand that makes zillions of dollars from fashion slaves.

Then we walked inside a room where you could smell the different essential oils that go into making Chanel No. 5 perfume and when we walked out we wondered if that was it. But thankfully it wasn't, though it meant walking up several flights of stairs to get to an exhibition showing a few select haute couture pieces up close.

They were presented behind several sheets of muslin (white fabric used to make the first draft in tailoring) and a rectangular hole cut through them for viewers to "peek" inside the atelier.

Some of them had very intricate beading like the top underneath a white wedding jacket, or a dark navy dress encrusted with sparkles. There was also a selection of little black dresses that revealed the outer shells to show fashion fans how intricate the sewing was, but also indicate how many man hours went into each outfit, which was in the hundreds.

890 hours of work went into this black dress
It's almost as if Karl Lagerfeld wants to challenge the haute couture staff into doing the most tedious work to deadline, but in reality fashion is a business and these pieces are a way to lure clients to order these one-of-a-kind dresses.

One that I liked required 890 hours of work into it. Thin organza black strips were carefully sewn either horizontally or vertically -- definitely a daunting task not everyone would have the patience for.

There were also some high jewellery featuring lots of small diamonds to create glittering pieces that would turn heads, including one of a carved lion signifying the leo constellation that stands on top of a shooting star.

At the end there is a very short film that Lagerfeld made in 2015 featuring himself and Geraldine Chaplin as Gabrielle Chanel. She wakes up in her Paris salon and goes upstairs to find Lagerfeld there and the two have a feisty debate about how things have changed since she died, but she still doesn't approve of what he has done with the label.

Chanel's favourite leo on a shooting star
It's a funny finish, but then we are handed a cloth bag and a poster -- of Lily Rose Depp -- Johnny Depp's daughter with a tiara on her head... what does that mean? Hardly a souvenir we want to keep!

Mademoiselle Prive Hong Kong
Until February 10, 2018
35 Aberdeen Street
Hong Kong

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