“Chanel!” Pharrell Williams said. “I can’t believe I’m here right now.”
Yes, it was so hard to believe Karl Lagerfeld staged a Chanel show in the middle of New York’s Upper East Side Tuesday night, even Pharrell was incredulous. He was speaking from a makeshift stage at the Park Avenue Armory after Lagerfeld sent down a labyrinthine runway a parade of models that included Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner and Stella Tennant, showing off the work of the house’s Métiers d’Art companies.
This story first appeared in the April 2, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Williams was part of the constellation of stars in attendance to witness the once-in-a-blue-moon event — Beyoncé, Julianne Moore and Dakota Johnson were among the others.
Kris Jenner, one of the first to arrive, came to New York from Los Angeles just for the occasion.
“Only for Karl,” she said, installed in an armchair toward the entrance. “I missed the Salzburg show so I’m relieved I get to see it here.”
Most guests were still snaking through the gilded furniture trying to locate their seats. Johnson ended up on a settee in the center of the room, across from Lily Collins and Banks, both perched on an ivory pew. The ladies inevitably ended up discussing their Chanel wares. “I turned around the top and sashed it,” Collins said of her black satin crepe top from the spring collection. Johnson opted for a silver skirt suit from spring couture. “I feel like a first lady,” she said. Moore’s footwear caused quite a stir when she arrived. The heels — black strappy sandals with a lit Lucite heel — produced a headlights-type effect as the crowd parted, clearing the aisles to let her pass. “You can switch them on and off,” she said from her seat, demonstrating the party trick. “I think I’ll turn them off for the show if the lights go down.”
Soon the lights did go down with one seat still empty. Then, Queen Bey emerged from backstage and was ushered to her throne next to Pharrell, cuing the show to begin.
“I love how he mixes the most unexpected pieces, the socks with the shorts and sequined blazer. Karl’s mind is like an explosion of ideas,” Collins said post-show as she made her way from the front row to the darkened salon where Williams was about to perform.
After working with Lagerfeld on a short film about the Métiers d’Art collection, Williams jumped at the chance to team with the designer again.
“I’m a fan. I’m, like, a huge fan and it’s not often that as a fan you get a chance to work with a someone you respect,” the singer said, wearing custom Chanel. “It’s just made for a really incredible yet educational experience. I learn so much from him. Whenever we work together, I get to ask him questions and he actually tells me and he’ll sketch things right in front of me. That man is as sharp as a pen.”
Williams teased future collaborations without giving away any trade secrets.
“We’ve done a couple of things together. One’s been revealed and a couple of others have not been yet,” he said.
The pair’s short film, for which Williams wrote an original song, played around 9 p.m. and the singer took the stage before a rapt crowd that included Beyoncé and Lagerfeld for a five-song set that consisted of “Come Get it Bae,” “Get Lucky” and, surprisingly given recent news, “Blurred Lines.” So much for that Marvin Gaye lawsuit.