PARIS, France —Karl Lagerfeld’s response to complaints that Chanel shows were getting too big to see anything was typically pragmatic. He gave everyone — about 3000 of us — a front row seat, creating an intimate salon situation by lining a narrow catwalk with two rows of chairs and then multiplying that configuration by a hundred — or at least that’s what it felt like in the Grand Palais this morning. “Fashion democracy,” crowed Lagerfeld. “So no more complaints.”
But if that was one way to address criticism of the scale of fashion, his reaction to the equally-criticised pace of it was also typical. Karl just made it go faster. So, as close as we were, ideas by the dozen whizzed by in a blur. Pharrell Williams, no slouch in the ideas department himself, wondered if that was what it’s like inside Lagerfeld’s mind. The man himself compared it to a computer.
In close to a hundred looks, Lagerfeld offered another take on fashion democracy: something for everyone. He was very taken with a new skirt option, lean and long but zipping at the side so you could show as much or as little leg as you wanted. Paired with a zipped jacket, it offered a winningly casual update on the classic tweed suit, particularly in knit.
In fact, the proliferation of knitwear emphasised that “casual” was a key element in the collection. The way sweaters were tied, scarves draped, fingerless mitts scrunched and tops slid off shoulders made a relaxed point. So did the elegant elongation which was such a hit at Chanel’s last couture show.
Soft suitings draped with strings of pearls felt like a quintessential Chanel statement (presumably the headgear was also a tip of the hat to Coco herself). It wasn’t the only one: a fitted black shift tied at each shoulder and as un-accessorised as almost everything else was decked out, had a rigour that felt like the antidote to excess that Chanel sought to offer women. And it was extremely seductive with it.
But maybe that was simply because, in the whirl of clothing dashing hither and yon, it was so easy to take in at a glance. Lagerfeld himself famously has no time for moments of reflection, but he was canny enough to offer us some today.