The Energy Issue

The Energy Issue is a Columbia University GSAPP initiative to make energy a cultural issue, launched in partnership with Oldcastle Building Envelope®.

Chanel’s Eco-Couture: Wind Turbines and Solar Panels at the Grand Palais

Chanel’s Eco-Couture: Wind Turbines and Solar Panels at the Grand Palais

 

The Chanel show at Paris Fashion Week, anticipated as much for its extravagant runway sets as its clothing, made an unusual nod to sustainability for its spring/summer 2013 collection. Rotating wind turbines lined a runway covered with a solar panel-like grid under the airy, glass-vaulted Grand Palais. Models, dressed in gossamer shifts, brightly-hued tweeds, and oversized fake pearls, weaved between the giant white columns.

Chanel Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2012 show

Chanel Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2012 show

According to Chanel’s creative director and head designer Karl Lagerfeld, the show was meant to capture a certain optimism, freedom, and buoyancy. By associating renewables with luxury, fashion, and aspirational glamour—not to mention the famed Chanel label—Lagerfeld placed a powerful cultural stake in sustainability. Though the excess of high fashion has historically been at odds with this sentiment, the Chanel show still contributed a significant cultural message.

Runway look from the Chanel Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2012 show

Runway look from the Chanel Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2012 show

Indeed, even the so-called tsar of the fashion world noted that “energy is the most important thing in life—the rest comes later.” If Lagerfeld takes his statement to heart, perhaps the next Chanel collection will be produced sustainably as well.

Chanel Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2012 show

Chanel Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2012 show