On Saturday, Chanel kicks off the spring season, inaugurating the Carrousel du Louvre -- the huge, slick and controversial new $100 million temple to fashion underneath the Tuileries gardens.
With its monumental entrance, mechanized runways and retractable seats, the place has already been nicknamed "The Zeppelin Hangar." But the prime mover behind the center, Chambre Syndicale president Jacques Mouclier, is really feeling his impresarial oats.
In a gesture that will shock those who pine for the days when couture was kept strictly under wraps, the Chambre will stage a big group preview in the Carrousel on Friday.
But the splashiest move of all bombed completely; Mouclier's $1 million pact with Event Media to beam the collections via high-definition television into auditoriums in
New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, has been canceled In the midst of all this, there are the clothes to consider -- clothes most designers complain they've had precious little time to prepare. This season is beginning a full nine days earlier than last year's, which has made this the schedule that stole Christmas for many houses.
"If they do this again, it will just be impossible. These people in charge of the Chambre Syndicale just want to ruin fashion," Karl Lagerfeld groused as he watched fabrics just arrived from their Italian makers being brought in Chanel's Rue Cambon door.
But his Chanel couture still promises to have plenty of news. Micro Karl has decided to send out short skirts, slung low on the hips and worn with cummerbunds and simple blouses with bows, but this season he'll pair them with long, fitted, unstructured jackets. "There's nothing in the jackets. They are more like dresses than suits," he explains.
Lagerfeld is also doing real men's-wear tailored trousers over short tweed spencer jackets, and lots of dresses. He plays with lengths in the form of tiered skirts, long lace vests over short dresses, and by attaching great swags of fabrics to the sleeves of brief, sexy black numbers.
Then there are Karl's hats, which cover not only the head but the whole face and suggest a visored motorcycle helmet made of black feathers.
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