Chanel's island in the sun
The greatest show in fashion, a Chanel runway extravaganza in Paris, produced another proper fashion moment Tuesday morning, with an elegiac vision of summer before a giant audience.
Most of the 2,679 guests had long since lost their summer tans, but they were transported back to vacation by another stunning Chanel set inside the planet's grandest exhibition space, the Grand Palais. The house created an 80-meter beach, with a hidden wave machine and a ginormous blue sky background: The first models walking barefoot along the strand and then on a sun-bleached boardwalk trimmed by sand fences, before fashionistas perched on wooden beach seats.
The set was inspired by the summer family vacation spot of Chanel's creative director Karl Lagerfeld on Sylt, the German island on the east of the North Sea, noted for its endless beaches and constantly shifting shape. Something of a necessity in fashion.
Optimism flooded through this whole sunny series from the opening look when sultry Dutch model Luna Bijl swept by in a white technical crepe suit with black piping and a zippered front; albeit also bearing black fingerless leather gloves and padded leather Chanel bag.
Karl paired flap-pocket blazers in sandy, coral or sunset-hued tweed with leggings; mint and kissing-pink flared tunics or flouncy dresses, done in a joyful new parasol and deckchair print.
Rarely has the name Chanel covered so many clothes: from Kaia Gerber in a white cotton military blouse, CHA on one pocket NEL on the other; seen in crystals on slouchy belts; or elongated raffia jockey caps. While the double C finished see-through sandals with Perspex heels or multiple chain bracelets and necklaces.
Out of the soundtrack pumped L´amour à la plage by Niagara, and for the finale when the entire cast marched with their shoes in the hands, Rita Mitsouko´s classic dance track Marcia Baila.
From a faux Balinese straw-and-palm-tree hut, Karl took his bow for the second consecutive season with his right-hand woman Virginie Viard, waving and bowing slightly to the cheering audience. In a busy day, Lagerfeld is already on to his next move. Tonight his own signature brand will fete its latest partnership with Kaia Gerber in its headquarters in St Germain.
Sylt's exposed position in the North Sea means there is an ongoing loss of land when storms hit. Its very intransigence mirrored by this remarkable catwalk set, which will be broken up and carted away within 48 hours. Ecologically correct, Chanel used ISO 14001 environmental standards when it took the sand from a quarry near Paris, which will now be used in the construction industry in the city. And, expect the benches to turn up at another event of store; Chanel might be close to a 10-billion-euro business, but this house always recycles its set designs.
Post-show, the audience didn't want to leave, the place was so utterly charming. An hour after the models had exited the beach, K-pop stars, Chinese private clients, French 'It' gals, bright-eyed editors, youthful publicists and even Pharrell Williams were still posing for photos on Chanel´s Island in the Sun.
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