Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé SS84: An Homage to Dressmaking

FIDM MUSEUM & GALLERIES

Runway Photography from the Michel Arnaud Archive at the FIDM Museum, Los Angeles

A Fond Farewell

Karl Lagerfeld’s Spring/Summer 1984 Prêt-à-Porter (ready-to-wear) collection for Chloé, while received with acclaim, also marked the end of a 19-year collaboration between the designer and the house.

Lagerfeld was credited with having a keen understanding of the label’s market, creating a diverse range of looks capitalizing on variety. Claiming “Lagerfeld furthered Chloé’s VIP reputation by going to the extent of personally financing its lavish, witty runway accessories,” this final collection exemplifies his ability to execute pieces both sophisticated and whimsical. [1][2]

Reasons given for his departure varied depending on the party interviewed; the designer described an “atmosphere [that] was no longer creative,” disputed by label owners Gaby Aghion and Jacques Lenoir as a reluctance to shoulder high French taxes.

Memorable despite politics, Lagerfeld’s collection was an homage to dressmaking, lauded by the press for its “amusing” display of accessories like thread spool bracelets, jeweled pincushions, thimbles combined with pearls, and prominent scissors, embellishing everything from belts to umbrella handles. [3]

Tools of the Trade

Surrealist trompe l'œil themes are shown alongside accessories inspired by the tools of the trade, emphasizing Karl Lagerfeld’s concept of “paying his respects to the women who sew the clothes he and other designers envision.”

Scissors dominate the look, appearing to cut through two sections of the dress. “Many different references to dressmakers’ equipment” sums up the headpiece, ornamented with duelling scissors, a spool of thread, and jewel clad pins. [4]

This fluid ensemble comprised of a sleeveless top and matching peplum is a frequent means employed by Lagerfeld to break the lines of the column-like silhouettes. [5] The look is shown alongside his dressmaking-inspired accessories, touted by one fashion editor as “the most creative accessories of the season.” [6]

The designer's "inventive prints, some with a childlike quality," are further accented with beading to compliment the dressmaking-inspired accessories. [7]

Antiquarian Obsession

Modeled by Ines de la Fressange, the Crétoise dress represents a subtheme of Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloé collection hinging on “mythologized elements of Greek and Italian history.” [8]

This trompe l'œil beaded look includes draped swaths of “fabric” and “pleating”, accessorized with a silver-gilt laurel leaf crown.

Fashion critic Bernadine Morris of The New York Times described the dress as an “Art Deco print picked out in jewels in a simple evening dress,” sharing the long, lean silhouette prevalent in the collection. [9]

Defying Conventions

Karl Lagerfeld once defied convention by pairing delicate silk dresses with sneakers; he achieved the same irreverence towards banality by styling models sporting evening looks with sunglasses here. One reporter surmised this combination was conjured up “as if to shut out the glare” of the glittering gown. [10]

The French Connection

The clothing was described as being “quintessentially French--interestingly designed, beautifully made fashions principally intended to flatter the female figure.” [11] The long, lean silhouettes shown were in keeping with collections shown by contemporaries like Sonia Rykiel and Nino Cerruti--particularly notable was the return of the chemise, with a “straight-up-and-down, hip-centered fit.” [12]

The designer favored long, lean silhouettes tapering from broad tops this season. A prevalent over apron emphasizing the hips is seen on several looks, including this yellow and black dress with a “double skirt that wraps--the top ‘apron’ layer at mid thigh.” [13]

Comfort and Style
A revolutionary concept emerged from the spring season of 1984; the modern woman could be comfortable yet stylish in low or flat-heeled shoes. Lagerfeld surprised the old guards of fashion by offering Chanel’s iconic two-tone pump in a flat version for the first time, an element carried over to his collection for Chloé. [14]  

Mixing it Up

This look is an amalgamation of several styles within the collection, including nods to menswear dressing and earrings borrowed from the dressmaking theme, executed in a black and white palette suggesting a tuxedo inspiration.

New Proportions

The juxtaposition between long, short, slim, and wide is again seen in this navy and white sweater look comprised of a cropped, navy over-layer paired with a navy and white long-sleeved polo sweater. Combined with a long, narrow skirt, this new proportion was noted by Vogue writer Mary Russell as a “feeling in the air for longer skirts for the day, though most admit for more fashion-forward women.” [15]

“The Lagerfeld pant for spring is cuffed just above the ankles and worn with flats,” a statement made by Los Angeles Times fashion editor Marylou Luther concisely illustrating this look.

“The concept of fashion polarity--short with long, pants with skirts” was also adopted by other designers like Claude Montana. [16]

Can't Please Everybody

A look embodying the dressmaker theme from this season was panned by fashion critic Bernadine Morris in a 1983 New York Times article. Morris writes “a couple dresses have hangers holding jeweled dresses on the front or back. That may be taking things too far.” [17]
This whimsical evening look is accessorized with a golden-scissor-adorned visor-hat and bejeweled spool thread earrings.

The success of the final Lagerfeld-designed Chloé collection
was the culmination of a wildly productive era for the designer, who was simultaneously creating for Fendi furs and ready-to-wear, as well as Chanel haute couture.  Much of the press documenting his Chloé collection was accompanied by reviews of his collection for Chanel, innovative for reinventing staple pieces and incorporating then-unusual fabrications like denim suits with red top-stitching. [18]  Yet Lagerfeld showed no signs of slowing, announcing he “wants to be everywhere at once,” even expressing the desire to design a more youthful, ready-to-wear line under his own name. [19]
Credits: Story

© FIDM Museum & Library, Inc.

Research and text by Yvonne Sone.

Photography by Michel Arnaud.

Images made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, and the citations should include the URL “www.fidmmuseum.org”. For publication or press requests, visit this link or email imagerights@FIDMmuseum.org.

ENDNOTES

1. Christa Worthington, “Chloé: Life After Lagerfeld,” Women’s Wear Daily (New York, NY), Jun. 21, 1984.
2. Karl Lagerfeld returned to the helm of from Chloé 1992-1997. Jane Alison and Sinéad McCarthy, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined (London: Koenig Books, 2016, 33-35.
3. Bernadine Morris, “Applause in Paris for Lagerfeld and Miyake,” New York Times (New York, NY), Oct. 17, 1983.
4. Bernadine Morris, “Accessories Enliven the Paris Shows,” New York Times (New York, NY), Oct 21, 1983.
5. Bernadine Morris, “Applause in Paris for Lagerfeld and Miyake,” New York Times (New York, NY), Oct. 17, 1983.
6. Marylou Luther, “Spring-Summer ‘84: Androgyny Strolling Into the Easter Parade,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 28, 1983.
7. Ibid.
8. Jane Alison and Sinéad McCarthy, The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined (London: Koenig Books, 2016), 33-35
9. Bernadine Morris, “Applause in Paris for Lagerfeld and Miyake,” New York Times (New York, NY), Oct. 17, 1983.
10. Ibid.
11. “Chanel and Chloé,” New York Times (New York, NY), Aug. 28, 1983.
12. Marylou Luther, “French Designers Focus on Spring/Summer,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 21, 1983.
13. Mary Russell, “Backstage. Paris/Milan: Spring-Summer ‘84 in the Making,” Vogue (New York, NY), Nov. 1, 1983.
14. Bernadine Morris, “In Style and Comfort: Low-Heel Shoes,” New York Times (New York, NY), Jan. 4, 1984.
15. Mary Russell, “Backstage. Paris/Milan: Spring-Summer ‘84 in the Making,” Vogue (New York, NY), Nov. 1, 1983.
16. Marylou Luther, “Banzai! Miyake Triumphs With Spring Designs.” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 19, 1983.
17. Bernadine Morris, “Applause in Paris for Lagerfeld and Miyake,” New York Times (New York, NY), Oct. 17, 1983.
18. Marylou Luther, “Spring-Summer ‘84: Androgyny Strolling Into the Easter Parade,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 28, 1983.
19. “Vogue’s View: Karl Talks,” Vogue (New York, NY), Aug. 1, 1983.

© FIDM Museum & Library, Inc.

Photography by Michel Arnaud.

Images made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, and the citations should include the URL “www.fidmmuseum.org”. For publication or press requests, visit this link or email imagerights@FIDMmuseum.org.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile