Chanel: Baby, it’s cold out there. And that’s just the way Baby likes it, at least if she shops Chanel. 

While other designers have responded to fashion’s recent overload of faux gentility and retro embellishment with a turn toward sobriety, Karl Lagerfeld took a different tack in the delightful collection he showed on Friday morning. Want angst? Save for a mild wayward-schoolgirl moment in short pleated skirts, neckties and brazen boots scrunched the entire length of the leg, he showed not a bit. Minimalism? Try pilings of tweeds, crochet, bows, chains, crystal camellia-decorated mufflers, Ali caps and yes, the envy of everyone in Paris this week, leggings, worn with virtually every look that didn’t get a pair of over-the-knee boots. And amazingly, Karl kept it all ultra controlled.

Last fall he turned away abruptly from the style of gorgeous, dressed-up delicacy he had forged with the lemmings in hot pursuit, and embarked on a whole new course — sportier, heartier, banishing all traces of chi-chi, including the gently frilled pastels that so captivated fashion. He replaced them with thicker, gutsier tweeds while even pronouncing much of the line unisex, and if that claim was overstated to the point of delusion, so be it. The real news, that of a defrilled direction ahead, proved sage though, at the time, not entirely resolved.

Not so this time around, as Karl brought his more substantial attitude planted last fall into full flower. Once upon a time cold-weather called for cozy layers, right? As everybody knows, there’s nobody like Lagerfeld for making everything old new again — and making it sell like hotcakes, oops, make that gateaux. He started with hefty tweeds, now utterly inviting, sometimes going head-to-toe tonal — a pale gray suit with a full skirt and sleeves cut short over silken, extra-long shirt sleeves. At others he piled on the patterns — tweed, crochet, stripes, even Nordic riffs for sweaters and leggings.  Either way, he worked mostly in a neutral palette, a flash of pink here or lavender there to avoid the rut of familiarity. He also showed charming knit dresses in black or white with pearl necklines, and remember his megahit tweed-trimmed trench? Here a stunning shearling got the tweed treatment.

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