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Jeremy Corbyn caps and luxe coats: Karl Lagerfeld takes Chanel back to his German roots

Karl Lagerfeld was dispatched to Paris by his mother, the acerbic sounding Elisabeth Lagerfeld (or Elisabeth of Germany as her son sometimes refers to her in gilded retellings of his family history) when he was still a school boy, almost 70 years ago.
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Karl Lagerfeld was dispatched  to Paris by his mother, the acerbic sounding Elisabeth Lagerfeld (or Elisabeth of Germany as her son sometimes refers to her in gilded retellings of his family history) when he was still a school boy, almost 70 years ago.

The 85-year-old Lagerfeld is not sentimental about his birthplace, but when the Herzog de Meuron-designed Concert Hall opened in an old warehouse by the water’s edge earlier this year, it seemed the right moment to return with his first ever German-located Chanel show.

The  controversial (because of its cost) 26 storey Elbphilharmonie is, like this city, proudly unflashy on the outside, but plush and expensive on the inside– a brick exterior wrapped around a minimalist, undulating interior that resembles an acoustically impeccable coral reef.

All this discreet luxury exerted a powerful influence on the collection, which was one of Chanel’s most pared-back. A largely monochrome palette with flashes of grey, it offered a chic medley of Hamburg’s most famous emblems- an (early) Beatles-era cap- some swathed in black tulle headscarves- and a handful of nautical references, including anchor-shaped jewellery.

Chanel's latest Metiers d'Art show in HamburgCredit:Getty

That may not seem much to go on, but it made for an unusually tight edit that played to Chanel (and Lagerfeld’s) strengths with nary a kitsch Bratwurst-shaped handbag in sight. Instead of the tourist’s eye, this was deep-insider stuff from someone who understood the push between Hamburg’s bourgeois aspirations and gritty edges. Soft-but-oh so precise pea-coats jostled with deluxe navy fishermen sweaters and slender frock coats. One, in grey, cut away at the front over a muted, beaded sequin skirt looked like the wintry Hamburg sky pierced by occasional shafts of watery sun.

Stretch-knit thigh high leg warmers – if you’re wearing a micro mini in a foggy, Baltic city you need luxury lagging – were a reminder that the December Chanel show, the Métiers d’Art collection as it’s called, is a showcase for those once-dying specialists that Chanel has, over the years, bought and resurrected. Those “laggings” were  produced by Barrie in Scotland, The Beatles caps ( très Jeremy Corbyn, but at a budget-blowing price) were by Maison Michel, another  rescued label.

'Laggings' on the Chanel catwalkCredit:Getty

Hamburg’s high rollers shrugged on their best Chanel cocktail wear and battled the chilling night air to welcome back one of their own. It was a very good collection and they gave him  and the British cellist Oliver Coates, who had composed a score for the show,  a standing ovation.

“I think that proves that the German publication that  just wrote that I am admired but not loved, was wrong,” said a somewhat frail-looking Lagerfeld afterwards. “Not that I care. They made 21 mistakes in that article,” he added, with the bemused tone of someone who probably did, but was trying to convince himself otherwise.

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