Breezy, Serene Chic at Chanel

Godfrey Deeny
October 2, 2012
Runway Model
FWD101 Model walks the runway at the Chanel show during Spring 2013 Fashion Week in Paris on Tuesday, October 2, 2012. (Fashion Wire Daily/Gruber)

There can be no more glamorous audience anywhere in the world than that at a Chanel show, whose latest event was a breezy, elegant take on fashion kept even cooler by the remarkable stage set.

A dozen massive wind turbines rotated high above the audience inside the Grand Palais at this show, staged Tuesday, Oct. 2, wafting fresh air down on the 2,000 fortunate guests on a balmly day in the French capital.

"I got the idea when I was sketching in St Tropez this summer. It as so impossibly hot all I wanted was fresh air. It was that childish," said Karl Lagerfeld backstage.

Helped by the airy wind, the collection was an ever-so-at-ease affair, which opened with a natty series of black and white looks: loosely cut suits with wide short skirts, all emblazoned with one-inch pearls. Jaunty and sporty throughout, models appeared in baseball jackets and some fab new geometrically striped platforms - sure fired hits and certain to be major fashion influences.

Probably the largest collection in Paris - with close to 100 passages - the designs had a fine Spanish touch, from shortened bolero in graphic weaves, many worn with charming Cordobes riding hats, again extended to three feet in width thanks to a surrounding plastic disk.

Lagerfeld remains the master of what the French call, un clin d'oeil, meaning an insider joke. A subsequent one yard-diameter, thick tubular circle, padded white leather CC logo bag carried by a model in a swimsuit, won loads of knowing winks.

In Paris, a central fashion obsession is a designer's alleged duty to respect the visual "codes" or DNA of a house. Lagerfeld, on the other hand, is such a visually concise designer he can suggest and summon up Chanel, even though he barely touched many of Chanel's typical references.

"There was nothing of the past: no braid, no chains, no camellias, I removed everything," insisted Lagerfeld backstage, slightly straining credibility. He did, notably, include much of one Chanel tradition - pearls; seen as humungous knuckles on metallic bracelets, or ripening in huge bunches in dramatic chokers. Plus the charming instant collectible that is a Chanel show program, this season featured a blond model wearing sunglasses whose ornate frames featured a silhouette of Mademoiselle Chanel wearing four strands of pearls.

"I think given the times, one needs a little serenity," added Lagerfeld, natty as ever as he took questions in a Dior Homme duffle-meets-frock coat and a diamond clip of a sword.