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