For the Italians it’s pizza and hand gestures and the French abroad have to endure a number of references to baguettes and berets. The lightest national stereotypes can be annoying for the receiver and amusing for the sender, but they sure are thought to be a great ice-breaker, since it’s all you hear when you move abroad.
But if irony is the number one weapon for this kind of situations, then Karl Lagerfeld knows all too well how to play this card. His latest shows have been no less than a celebration of the French stereotypes, of the commonly understood Parisian style. All the way from AW14 last year, Chanel has presented a genius smirk, making fun of the Frenchness of the brand itself.
The latest Chanel AW15, the Brasserie, featured models in unsurprising attires, very française, very classical Chanel. City looks wandered around in a staged brasserie, where sitting at the bar and chatting over drinks was part of the show. After all, we all wish we could go to the bar wearing only Chanel.
Again ironically celebrating the Parisian stereotype was the previous SS15 collection, this time focusing on the protests which take place almost on a daily basis. Walking on a re-created inside boulevard, the models took over the plaster streets wielding signs speaking of freedom and femininity. A very strong move, seen by many as tasteless, as it has been staged at the time of the Hong Kong protests. Lagerfeld reacted to the criticism pointing out how his inspiration had been his mother’s feminism, rather than any recent political event.
However, it was the supermarché, dated AW14, to jump-start this tradition of fun stunts with a meaning. Models in fancy Chanel, even before taking over fictitious streets and cafés, have been seen strolling around a high-end supermarket. Branded products on the shelves had something both exotic and self-ironic, with names such as haute Ketchup and Jambon Cambon.
They may say that Lagerfeld is not a big smiler, but he definitely knows his sardonic ways. And if stereotypes are not pleasurable to endure, at least you can make fun of them, and at your advantage. Maybe these Chanel stunts of the recent seasons stunts just gave us some very good life advice.