Lagerfeld reaches for immortality with Chanel Paris show

A model presents a creation by German designer Karl Lagerfeld as part of his Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018/2019 collection show for fashion house Chanel at the Grand Palais in Paris. (Reuters)
Updated 03 July 2018

Lagerfeld reaches for immortality with Chanel Paris show

  • Karl Lagerfeld made a pitch for immortality by setting his Chanel Paris haute couture show in front of the Academie Francaise
  • Much of the collection had a revved-up retro late 1940s feel with models’ hair styled in cockerel quiffs and some wearing fascinator hats

PARIS: Legendary designer and bibliophile Karl Lagerfeld made a pitch for immortality Tuesday by setting his Chanel Paris haute couture show in front of the Academie Francaise.
The venerable institution, whose members are knowns as “the immortals,” was the centerpiece of a spectacular set featuring the banks of the Seine that Lagerfeld had built inside the Grand Palais in the French capital.
Everything from the bouquinistes booksellers — dressed in Chanel of course — with their vintage Vogue magazines and tomes on Chanel, to the Paris pavements and embankments was recreated in staggeringly realistic detail.
All it lacked to pass for the real thing was the tourist tat and a few beggars.
At 84, the Kaiser is now too old to be admitted into any of the academies housed below the gilded dome of Institut de France which act as the guardians of French culture.
Lagerfeld is in fact nearly a decade over the age limit to be a sage, yet the German-born designer shows no signs of slowing.
He still designs for Chanel in Paris and Fendi in Rome — even though of late he has been a little doddery on his feet.
There was, however, almost a spring in his step on Tuesday as he took the bow for a classily restrained autumn winter haute couture collection marked by slit dresses and sleeves.
“Karl is as fresh as a bridegroom,” Conde Nast maven Karina Dobrotvorskaya cooed on Instagram over her picture of him with his “bride,” the traditional finale of couture shows.
Lagerfeld’s godsons Hudson and Jameson Kroenig — the sons of his favorite male model, the square-jawed American Brad Kroenig — were also at his side after playing the part of riverside booksellers in the show with their father.
Like the Dior show the previous day, Lagerfeld went for a refined sobriety of sharply-cut black and grey slit dresses, worn over short thigh-riding miniskirts.
Many were lit up by flashes of crystals, feathers and glittery-edged embroidery, which pointed up the zipped slit arms.
While much of the collection had a revved-up retro late 1940s feel with models’ hair styled in cockerel quiffs and some wearing fascinator hats, there were also Belle Epoque Victorian flourishes in satin and tulle dresses with glittery tweed capes and long fingerless gloves.
Haute couture shows — which only take place in Paris — are the creme de la creme of fashion.
Thousands of hours of work sometimes goes into the handmade dresses that can only be afforded by the richest women on the planet.
The label is accorded by the French industry ministry to acknowledge traditional craftsmanship in hand-sewn, custom-made garments using strict criteria.
Only 14 fashion houses currently boast the recognition, including Chanel, Christian Dior, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela, Schiaparelli, Alexis Mabille and Stephane Rolland.

29-year-old Saudi designer breaks down barriers between fashion and art

Updated 21 July 2018

29-year-old Saudi designer breaks down barriers between fashion and art

  • Art meets fashion in these thought-provoking sneaker designs, thanks to a Saudi designer with a foot in both worlds
  • The Nou Project is anything but a traditional Saudi sneaker brand — the shoes are unisex.

DUBAI: A university project turned lifelong career is not what Riyadh-born Nour Al-Tamimi had in mind when she first stepped into the world of art.
But the 29-year-old designer has managed to do just that, breaking down the barriers between fashion and art with striking clothing designs. Now Al-Tamimi has created the Kingdom’s first sneaker brand, which “speaks the truth” by featuring striking and often thought-provoking  artwork.

The Nou Project is anything but a traditional Saudi sneaker brand — the shoes are unisex. “That was the biggest thing for me, being Saudi,” Al-Tamimi said. “I was excited to come up with something that was unisex, something that Saudi men and women could wear as equals. People asked about creating flats or cute clutch bags — but I wanted to appeal to both sexes and have them find a common ground.”

Al-Tamimi’s artistic journey began at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts in Boston, where she gained a bachelor of fine arts. Soon after, she was on her way to Milan, where she was awarded a master’s in fashion at the renowned Istituto Marangoni. Later, in Los Angeles, she pursued a master’s in art business at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. “I was always into art and fashion,” Al-Tamimi said.  “I ended up doing my last semester in New York City, where I got blisters from walking around in flat shoes or stilettos. That’s whenI realized I wanted to invest in a cool pair of sneakers for daily use.”

Riyadh-born Nour Al-Tamimi

As part of the course, Al-Tamimi had to develop a business plan for a project to benefit the art world. That was when her idea came to life. “I thought it would be cool to cater to sneaker-heads and art collectors,” she said. “I wanted to have really cool sneakers with limited art and to have art on a different platform. New York, as a city, was inspirational, and it became about combining my passion for art and fashion.”

Following her graduation, Al-Tamimi spent time at an art market website that collaborated with artists to produce furniture and other household items. “It was a valuable experience,” she said. “I decided to make my business plan a reality and I met my co-creative director Basma Chidiac in New York.”

Featuring pop and street art, Al-Tamimi’s leather shoes became an instant hit. One design features water pistols by artist James Rawson, whose work addresses issues of the past 50 years, including over-consumption and global inequality.

Another favorite and a bestseller for the Nou Project includes work by Eric Yahnker with his “AirObama Cares” — a portrait of former US president Barack Obama “giving the finger”. Yahnker used gouache, a paintbrush, colored pencils and a roll of watercolor paper to create what he calls “a crude gesture that many of us may wish he would use, but are grateful he doesn’t.” Although Al-Tamimi loved the idea, the gesture caused some doubts.
“I showed it to my mother, who asked how I could put that on a shoe and wondered what people would think or say,” she said. “But it became our bestseller, so it’s important to remember that art is all about things that are shocking. It’s about commenting on current affairs and pointing out issues.”

The designer received requests from customers in Miami suggesting an artwork of Trump blow-drying his hair. “Those shoes point to the value of art and art history,” she said.

One of Al-Tamimi’s favorite pieces is by fellow Saudi artist Rexchouk, who works out of a SoHo studio in New York and has been featured in the artist program of the Walton Fine Arts Gallery in London.

“I admired his courage and the way he never studied art but knew this was his passion and what he wanted to do,” she said. “It’s really nice to support each other as Saudis.

He is one of the artists who means a lot to me. But I love them all — I was really excited about our collaboration with the Untitled Art Fair in Miami last December because we did 55 pairs with three artists showcasing there.”

Although the journey has been challenging for Al-Tamimi since she started in 2015, it has been worthwhile. “I had no idea this would become my life today,” she said. “It’s exciting to be the first Saudi sneaker brand — that’s a milestone in itself.” The designer believes the opening of art galleries in both Riyadh and Jeddah will make it easier for aspiring Saudi artists to enter the market. “I’m so proud of all of them,” Al-Tamimi said.

“I would tell young Saudi women looking to start their own business to work with other startups as they encourage each other to grow. We are all in a creative industry, so helping each other out will help you to stay ahead of the game.”


What is the Nou Project?

It is an artist-designed sneaker brand featuring illustrated pieces that turn footwear into wearable art. Conceived by Riyadh-born Nour Al-Tamimi and creative director Lebanese Basma Chidiac, the brand supports emerging artists by providing them with a platform to gain recognition. With minimal lines and stitching, the high-top grain leather sneakers are presented as a blank canvas for each artist to creatively showcase their artwork. The limited-edition sneakers are numbered from one to 300, making each pair a collectible. Inspired by asphalt and street art, the soles feature a unique grainy recycled rubber. In future, a portion of the revenue will be donated to a charity selected in collaboration with each artist. Nou Project sneakers can be found on