Hide your light under a recession-wary bushel? Come on, now; that just isn’t the Chanel way. Remember, this is the house which, at its designer’s bidding, once closed its New York boutique for a few days a week before Christmas to prep for a show. So who could be surprised that, at this gloom-and-doom moment, Karl Lagerfeld sent out a collection as abundant as the house iconography, providing not only fabulous fashion, but also a dose of sorely needed fun?


Lagerfeld’s new carryall said it all, a clean-lined case with built-in places for everything a girl might need during the day — Chanel quilted handbag, Chanel blush, Chanel lipstick, Chanel fragrance, Chanel sunglasses, even a Chanel iPod. Crafted from Lucite, the case provided a crystal-clear window on the indiscreet logo count. The irony, of course, is that with its ownership of the most identifiable look in all of fashion, Chanel can claim title to the ultimate statement of timeless elegance and to being a major pusher of conspicuous consumption. Thus, a Chanel-o-phile can flaunt both tony practicality and flamboyant excess all at once. And the biggest Chanel-o-phile of all is Lagerfeld himself.


Hence his fall collection’s classic core — perfect black coats, dresses and suits, all with dandyish, demonstrative white frills, whether ruffles, pleats or camellias, at the throat and cuffs. Some models wore graphic geometric pendants and rings featuring flat discs of jade, the show’s first hints of color. Next came a black jacket over green pants and a tweed suit with green accents, including an outsized boater. Just when you thought Lagerfeld’s choice might be all about the color of money — wrong! Enter the pinks, as bubble-gummy upbeat as could be, starting with chill-chasing — not to mention eye-catching — heavy knit tights. Those signaled the delicious pilings to come, including one look with a chunky sweater tied into a giant poet’s bow. Then followed a gentle, webby sweater dress, some for-the-heck-of-it court jester onesies and several tricked-out puffers seemingly made from the most luxe of the Hefty bag range. But ever the pragmatist, on the cusp of too much, Lagerfeld retreated with spare black dresses, their seams outlined in the thinnest white lines.


Compared with the daytime overload, evening was a relatively sedate lineup of black gowns and long skirts with discreet embellishments and plenty of flou.

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