Chanel: “Nicole, this way! Nicole, over here! Over here! Over here!”

Call it the Day of the Locusts and Camellias. Fashion’s celebrity obsession reached new heights at the Chanel show on Friday morning, as Karl Lagerfeld not only put No.5’s number one pitchwoman, Nicole Kidman, on proud display, but also turned his runway into an imitation of red-carpet Hollywood life complete with plasticine smiles, glamour couples and a swarm of manic paparazzi willing literally to fall over backwards for the perfect shot.

Praise or mockery? It was both. No one in fashion — or for that matter, most other creative disciplines — has leveraged the counterpoint between reverence and irony for commercial purposes more brilliantly than Lagerfeld. He’s made it a hallmark of his reign on rue Cambon and in the great retail bastions around the world, over the years lampooning with varying degrees of gentleness (sometimes none) virtually every one of the house signatures, all the while shipping more, more, more of those fabulous tweed jackets.

Until recently, however, Lagerfeld stayed far away from the celebrity angle. Now that he’s crossed over into the fray, how could he resist flaunting Kidman, fashion’s biggest conquest du jour? If Kidman arrived at the Carrousel du Louvre to mere frenzy, she left to unbridled pandemonium: After the show, when Lagerfeld beckoned her to join him for the bow, the mostly black-and-white clad photographers (as per the dress-code decree) rushed the bi-level runway in a fearsome pack, several tripping up the center steps as they walked backwards. In the belly of the camera-wielding beast, security guards locked arms around Lagerfeld and Kidman, she appearing serene even though many in the stunned audience feared for her safety. Was this wild runway rush planned? Rumor had it that some of the more dapper photographers had been hired by the house. And backstage before the show, Kidman and Baz Luhrmann visited with Lagerfeld in the relative privacy of a curtained-off area. “Karl, it’s your show,” Luhrmann said. “We want you to direct us.”

The collection itself — shown on a stretch of red carpeting that might have been imported from the ABC Bronx outlet — reflected the carefully-orchestrated chaos. Lagerfeld opened with fashion’s own celebrities, supermodels emeritus Linda, Naomi, Amber, Shalom, Kristen and Eva, all dolled up in high-glam black for their imaginary big night. They looked great: Shalom in full-skirted froth; Naomi in the glow of glistening blue-on-black embroidery.

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