We can look back at the Chanel Spring/Summer 2004 collection as many things. Perhaps we see it today as exemplary early 2000s, exemplary Lagerfeld, or exemplary Chanel. But its ability to be all of those things is really what Lagerfeld brought to his successful creative direction at Chanel. His collections were timely and fashionable whilst ever salient and chic. This was no exception. Pair the dresses, skirts, and jackets that scream Chanel with accented chains, chunky jewelry, graphics, and unexpected fabric combinations, and you get a collection quintessential to Lagerfeld’s creative direction at Chanel. You also get something that continues to inspire in the summer of 2020.
While in some ways this runway show was a Spring/Summer classic, Karl Lagerfeld was able to bring a real sense of versatility among the looks and garments. With the bathing suits as chic as the pantsuits, Lagerfeld takes the Chanel woman from the beach to the boardroom in this collection. Among the diversity of garments, the designer included traditional spring motifs like pastel pink and watercolor prints. Heavier tweeds and crochets were complimented by lighter fabrics in a way that was both on brand and in season.
Meanwhile, Lagerfeld seemed to make an attempt, while staying true to the salience and maturity of the brand, to nod to early 2000s grunge and youth culture. The designer delicately implements use of sheer black tulle, for example, as well as music motifs and statement accessories. Often, these looks are paired with or immediately followed by something as traditionally ultra-feminine as white and pink lace. Light layering and heavy jewelry here seems to pull looks together that are at once eclectic and simple.
What Karl Lagerfeld communicates in the Spring/Summer 2004 collection is a truly fun summer of ‘04. It is a summer to go for gallery walks and beach vacations. A summer of not only work and play but also one of laying out by the pool and listening to music with friends. With this Chanel collection, Lagerfeld creates a joyful fantasy for the warmer days of the year, and as we sit in our homes or hiding behind masks, it’s easy to fall for it right about now.