twice a year karl lagerfeld marries chanel's parisienne chic with a specific destination's visual language. for his latest metiers d'art collection, lagerfeld took the house of chanel to moscow. delving into the moscovite history of traditional russian costume and folklore, the byzantine era, communist uniform, the ballet russes, and constructivism, lagerfeld used them as an inspirational launching board to showcase the decorative arts of some of france's most renowned embroidery, millinery, cobblers, silversmiths, feather, and jewelry ateliers that the house purchased to ensure the survival of the dying art of the couture passementerie. russia has always seduced designers. from yves saint laurent to jean paul gaultier, the allure of russian iconography is such a potent image that has the ability to enrapture anyone's imagination. in lagerfeld's hand, one of fashion's most competent alchemist, he was able to translate traditional french decoration into a russian vernacular that, asides from the elaborate head dresses, never verged too close on being costumey. opening the collection with a group of sharply tailored black suits and dresses that was obviously inspired by the severity and angular sharpness of russian constructivism, he organically evolved the collection into an exploration of all the elements that people closely associate with russia. the craftsmanship the house displayed was breathtaking. surprising even because considering that in a month from now the house presents its actual haute couture collection. surprising because in a few weeks the detail and laborious work involved with the haute couture collection actually becomes even more elaborate and intricate. which does not mean that the metier d'art collection as being merely sloppy seconds. it actually serves as a precursor to showcase the high level of craftsmanship the house is capable of. although it might seem incongruous with the world heading into a recession that idea of producing a demi-couture collection seems a bit insane, but for the extremely few who has the luxury of being able to afford some of these pieces, who can say no when you are presented with beauty on this caliber?