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Chanel Paris-Shanghai Pre-Fall 2010 Collection - Karl Lagerfeld INTERVIEW

For Chinese inspiration, I chose two things: ancient China, very sober, very modern, and the "Three Emperors" period in the 17th century.

I love 18th-century French chinoiseries. It's an idea of China painted by people who never saw China. And that's amusing, because there's real imagination. It's spirited and light. I also enjoy having non-Chinese play Chinese. It's not necessarily a Chinese singing Turandot. It's amusing. The influence and spirit of China provide inspiration, which must be developed. Otherwise it's folklore. Coco Chanel never went to China. And yet, she was steeped in a love of China Sometimes, the idea of things is more creative than the reality. All the same, China has always been present in art, decoration, bronze, Coromandel screens... The French have always loved Chinese art. This part of the world provided inspiration for decorative arts in Europe from the 17th and 18th centuries. Chanel had Chinese art in her houses. Jose Maria Sert introduced her to all that. She never stopped. She had her wonderful bronze does, which are amazingly modern and streamlined. Completely, absolutely streamlined.

-What colors recur in the collection? Red?
Yes, but certain red. I'm not a fan of red. I really like Chinese lacquer red. I also like red lacquer furniture. I'm less of a fan of cherry-red clothing. But with khaki, with matte gold, - because this gold isn't shiny, aggressive, brash or bling-bling - I'm creating the ultimate in streamlined, authentic elegance in Chinese culture as regards decorative art and clothes.

-Technology and ancestral know-how are one.
I'm glad you say so. That's what makes us fairly unique. We have no competition because no one else has access to so many people with so much know-how. That's Chanel's strength. Look at the dresses with the flat embroidery. It's a crazy amount of work. And the house of Desrues' jewelry is fabulous. No one else in the world does that. The house of Michel's hats are perfectly proportioned. It's true old-fashioned millinery work, with a modern touch. It's a very craftsman-like way of working, in the best sense. In "craftsman", there is "craft". Proper craftsmanship in an applied art. It's wonderful. Much of the image of this collection lies in refinement you need to see up close, almost to touch, to understand how it's made and to fully appreciate the beauty of this work. The basis is sobriety you find in China in the wonderful "Three Emperors" period, the brief period at the end of the 17th century.


posted by PFM