The Fanciful Elizabethan Ruff Walks the Runway at Chanel Couture F’15

Chanel couture fall 2015 ruffs makeup

(Chanel Couture Fall 2015)

Autobiography henry VIIIThe portrait of King Henry VIII that emerges from Margaret George’s charming, research-rich portrayal of the controversial monarch, The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by his Fool, Will Somers is of quite the fun guy. No, really. At least in his early years, before a jousting accident severely limited his ability to engage in the athletic pursuits he so enjoyed, causing him to gain a tremendous amount of weight. The incident possibly even caused brain damage, which may have changed his personality into the much-married tyrant portrayed by history.

But there was a playful side to Henry, particularly when it came to his love of music, dance and fashion that he passed on to his daughter by his second wife, Anne Boleyn. During her long reign as Queen Elizabeth I from 1558–1603, one of the aspects of her court that attained particular renown was the distinctive collar made of fine lace that ended up extending out from the neck up to a foot – or more. The stiffly starched Elizabethan ruff is without question one of the finer examples of the frippery’ness of fashion that I find so irresistible!

Chanel couture fall 2015 ruffs

Queen elizabeth I ruffKarl Lagerfeld also finds them irresistible, apparently. He showed a particularly fabulous version on the Chanel Couture runway for Fall 2015, and paired it with leather. As well as a strong brow, tons of blush and a pointy wig that swooped into a chic bob.

The “distinctly adult” feel – according to’s Tim Blanks – was also dark and decadent. Retro, too. Really retro, as in the 16th century – while at the same time, surprisingly Ex Machina futuristic. “I gamble with collections more than ever,” notes Lagerfeld.

This collection was a gamble, certainly, but one that paid off. Perhaps not in actual currency, but cultural currency of the most precious kind.

– Lesley Scott

(portrait of Queen Elizabeth I ca. 1575)

NOTE: Honoring the past to help us pave the way forward fashionwise is a signature of the Folkspun fashion tribe. For more of my posts about this tribe, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion’s four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.

Follow Fashiontribes on TWITTER
Join me on FACEBOOK
Let’s connect on LinkedIn

Related articles