Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bastille Day 2010, from Chanel

a charming crocheted cardigan and skirt with appliqued flowers of very fine gauge crochet; shoes with wooden heels and insteps embellished with pinwheel ribbon flowers

Bastille Day, the national holiday of France is celebrated on July 14. The French are very patriotic, and tricouleur flags and bunting are never in short supply on le quatorze juillet .

In the spring/ summer Chanel 2010 which had a rustic, country theme, Lagerfeld had a mini collection within the collection, consisting of four pieces with a Bastille Day theme. The most popular look was a beautiful off white silk/ linen crocheted cardigan and matching skirt that were appliquéd with very finely crocheted red poppies and cornflowers that evoke a summery meadow in Europe, as well as the colours of the French flag. It was carried in many of the Chanel boutiques, and it was widely photographed for fashion magazines because it was so wearable, fresh, and delightful.

Matching shoes and handbags, embellished with brilliant summer poppies, co-ordinated with the outfit. Tricouleur outfits are not new to Chanel nor to other designers. During the war, in subtle defiance of the Nazis, Chanel and other designers did muted tricouleur, powder blue and white. After the liberation and the end of the war, several Paris designers did tricouleur outfits in celebration of peace and victory.

The use of wheat with red poppies and blue cornflowers is a classic European summer look is notable in the folkloric costume of middle Europe and one that surfaces in the collections of current fashion designers from time to time. Yves Saint-Laurent was well known for revisiting this theme in his charming summer boutique and couture collections. The look is very easy to adapt. Take a simple, light, off white cotton sweater and embellish with red and blue flowers. Not only is it very pretty, it is easy to wear, appropriate for many occasions, and it is classic and will never look dated. What more could you ask of a summer outfit? Chanel spring/summer 2010 crocheted bag with appliqued poppies and cornflowers; these flowers are the same as those on the cardigan above; note the muted, pale gold metallic closure

Above, a tricouleur dress of off white crochet, over midnight blue silk, appliqued with pinwheel style ribbon flowers (also on instep on the faux bois shoes). Chanel is known to use Mokuba ribbon, though this look is labour intensive and expensive, it could be interpreted by a person with the most basic sewing and craft skills. The draped stole of nylon tulle is also easy to make. Tulle is never hemmed, just cut. The stole consists of purchasing the length of fabric desired, then draping it artfully. Here Lagerfeld gave interest by combining white and darkest midnight blue tulle.

detail of one of the hand crocheted cornflowers that were applied to sweaters and handbags; here the textural interest of the knit sweater and the crocheted flowers is evident in a way that it is not when viewed on quickly moving models on the runway presentation

front of silk/linen pullover, made in Italy from the Chanel "Bastille" country look collection; image courtesy of "darmardan"
Chanel pullover with applied crocheted poppies and cornflowers; pale gold buttons at the hip; photo courtesy of "darmardan" who has this top currently listed on eBay

a beautifully executed, hand-crocheted poppy

a charming swallow, emblem of luck and happiness, decorates a filigree button on the Chanel "Bastille" sweater


  1. Happy Bastille Day!

    I had to realy think about one of your comments here

    "During the war, in subtle defiance of the Nazis, Chanel"

    Chanel's place in the war is one of fierce debate and a bit grey. She did close during the war, and managed to retain her suite at the Ritz due to the intervention of her lover who was supposedly a Nazi. Other designers managed to stay open and produce collections in defiance of the heavy restrictions imposed on them by the Nazis. Lucien Lelong was instrumental in preventing the whole couture industry from moving from Paris to Berlin or Vienna (something the Nazis wanted).

    Otherwise wonderful post!

  2. Hi David,

    Chanel changed her stories constantly, and biographers find that she often self contradicted. She could be cantankerous and authoritarian (watch some of the archival interviews posted on YouTube), and I imagine that writers, editors, and journalists were a bit intimidated and afraid to challenge her. I believe she fitted her stories to particular circumstances and times in her life. I definitely recall seeing war-era red, white and blue dresses by her and other Paris designers in Vogue or Bazaar. I guess we can only surmise what her intent, if any, was.

    Happy Bastille Day to you!

  3. Hi, Yes you are so right. She was an absolute biographer's nightmare! Trying to get a straight answer,especially about herself was torturous. I think she was a bit insecure where her own persona was involved, and tried to make her past seem actually better than what it was.

    Yes, a lot of couturiers showed very patriotic looks during the war era, and did everything they could to defy the Nazis. Even though fabrics etc were rationed materials for hats were not, so as a result some incredibly outlandish creations were made.

  4. Beautiful article and pictures!!

    Happy Bastille Day to France and
    Happy Birthday to YOU Monsieur Flair!!!

  5. What a beautiful picture! Is it a scarf
    or a painting? The little crocheted bag
    delightful, too. Happy,happy fete de Bastille
    et d'anniversaire, Mr Square with Flair

  6. Hi there!
    I just discovered your blog. This post is making me pull out my old crocheted bag and embellish it with poppy pins ;)
    I'm your newest follower!