By  on March 3, 2008

There's more than one way to create an appealing collection. Karl Lagerfeld did it for Chanel with stylish real clothes in cutaway linear shapes, while Alexander McQueen offered a fairytale narrative replete with witty versions of Victorian and Indian looks.

Chanel: Forget the Carrousel du Louvre. On Friday morning, Karl Lagerfeld unveiled a brand-new set he commissioned just for this season: the Carrousel du Chanel. His pale gold-and-white merry-go-luxe had not a gaudy painted animal in sight; rather, his girls perched on giant 3-D renderings of the house iconography — jacket, camellia, ballet flat, pearl bracelet, Chanel No.5. It was actually the house's collaboration with Zaha Hadid opening later this month in Hong Kong that put the bee in Karl's boater: "They do Mobile Art," he said before the show. "We do mobile, but it's not art."

Rather, it's fashion of the commercial sort, for which Lagerfeld has never been an apologist. And in keeping with the mood of the season it was, if not exactly austere, then at least pared-down. For starters, but for a few charming berets, Lagerfeld banned all accessories from the runway. "We needed a break," he declared, but then promised, "We put them in again in Miami," referring to Chanel's cruise show in May.

Here he offered an appealing pastiche of favorites new for the season. His primary motif was to work a curve, which resulted in linear cutaway shapes such as jackets and coats that opened to show the pieces beneath, or dresses with a subtle capelike effect in back. Long, lean suits came in tweeds that were shredded, not in the delicate manner of his spectacular couture a few years back, but with a gusto that approached kitsch, elbows slashed as obviously as the knees of preworn denim. But then Karl showed some of that, too, in frothed-up miniskirts. His knits were of the cozy variety, whether a ribbed gray dress edged with pink crystals or a big belted coat. In the spirit of less, evening was also a low-key affair — that is, unless a girl takes some serious harness action literally. Otherwise, a lovely blouse-with-skirt combo and a gray ruffled shift looked pretty and demure. Perhaps too demure for some. But no need to worry. Miami's up next.

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