Chanel’s Indian-Inspired Metier d’Arts 2012 Collection

Chanel Indian-Inspired Metier d'Arts 2012 Collection

Photos courtesy of Chanel

Chanel's Indian-Inspired Metier d'Arts 2012 Collection.

It was only fitting that Chanel's Pre-Fall (or métiers d’art) 2012 collection was laid out as a feast; anyone who has ever been to an Indian or South Asian gathering knows that food takes center stage. But so do the clothes, and Chanel by way of Bombay (in Paris) was an East meets West tour de force.

The collection was a beautifully rich assortment of Chanel tweeds mixed with embroidery, embellishments and metallics. The fabrics were akin to saris and salwar kameezes (a long tunic or top worn with pants)—both of which were sent down the runway.

Completing the looks were gorgeous headpieces and nose adornments, most often seen at weddings (though they weren't in the traditional bright yellow Indian gold) as well as ring-bracelet combinations. Men wore turbans and embellished sashes; women sported dreadlocks and layers of jewelry.

Karl Lagerfeld noted to Womens Wear Daily that inspired as he was by India, he had never actually been to the subcontinent. “It’s the Paris version of the idea of India,” he said. “It’s not a trip for documentation. I’m against reality. My life is already a reality show.” 

Lagerfeld added that he was more inspired by the Indian menswear looks than womenswear, saying "They’re easier to wear." (A point we may contest, as tunics and pants are pretty comfortable, especially in comparison to most runway looks.)

If critics complain that the collection was too literal, perhaps they need only to look at India's luxury sector, a market eager for high-end goods as well as chic, traditional options. (Hermès recently looked East with its own line of saris.) And beyond that, in the western world, there are quite a few South Asians who wouldn't normally wear traditional garb (guilty as charged), but who may now reconsider fashion's reinterpretation.

In particular, we can see people wearing the more subtle pieces (a hint of Indian embroidery or minimal jewelry) so as to not look like they raided their mothers' closets.

Overall, the Chanel métiers d’art 2012 collection feels less cosmopolitan India or colonial Bombay and more touristy Goa—it's the dreadlocks that do it. But, for the most part, the looks were charming.

As for complaints that the collection was over-embellished and heavy handed with the accessories, well, we suggest coming along with us to our next South Asian party—there's no such thing as being over accessorized.