Coco Chanel and her coromandel screen, 1937.
Perhaps no other designer working today more avidly incorporates interiors into his fashion designs than Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. Whether wallpaper prints or furnishing-style fabrics, flowery 18th-century motifs or sturdier, earthier Arts and Crafts patterns evoking William Morris, they’ve all made their way into his men’s and women’s collections. It should be no surprise, then, that Michele would eventually reference the lacquered reveries of the coromandel screen, made popular among the bon ton and interior decorators by none other than Coco Chanel.
“I have had 21 coromandel screens,” Chanel once said. “They play the role that tapestries did in the Middle Ages; they allow you to re-create your home everywhere.” Taken in that context, the appearance of Yumi Lambert in Michele’s fur-cuffed three-quarter-sleeved coromandel dream dress (accessorized with a flirtatious, veiled, and very British hat, an eclectic mix all his own) is proof of just how much at home Michele feels at Gucci, a year after being named creative director. To avid followers of fashion, this dress also brought to mind earlier paeans to the coromandel screen, including Chanel’s Fall 1996 Haute Couture collection and Tom Ford’s Fall 2004 Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche show, as well as the embroidered pastel confection Michele dreamed up for Georgia May Jagger, his date to the Met Gala celebrating the opening of “China: Through the Looking Glass,” an exhibition whose influence is clearly still potent.
Joan Collins, 1951
Beverly Johnson in an embroidered silk Chinese wedding jacket from Great Eastern Trading Co., 1973
Chanel Haute Couture Fall 1996
Gucci Spring 2003
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Fall 2004
Georgia May Jagger in custom Gucci at the Met Gala, 2015
Gucci Fall 2016