What does one do after a magical undersea romp? Karl Lagerfeld bookeda Chanel journey to the center of the Earth, filled with rich-tonedminerals of sparkling hues, where the granite sand glistened and hugestalagmites of various grays and purples (think anthracite and amethyst)soared high beneath the dome of the Grand Palais. Tilting this way andthat, they evoked an off-kilter urban skyline, prompting Lagerfeld toquip in a preview that “nature makes a good designer, no?”

Yes,especially when ghost-designed by Lagerfeld himself. If exploring thedepths of terra firma didn’t inspire the same level of awe as spring’smasterful oceanic excursion, it still offered a wealth of great clothesand a welcome dose of entertainment near the end of a long season.

Thedesigner was of two minds in terms of mood. His randomly slantedobelisks had a vaguely post-apocalyptic feel, and the girls walked withpounding attitude, their expressions stern under brows jeweled withraw-cut stones. But how genuine can angst be when delivered via sopretty a palette? The clothes, though they seemed to roam, were in factrooted in a single fabulous idea: Chanel sportif.

Lagerfeld’smineral mode made for a savvy way with color — deep purples, blues,greens, grays and some reds — that will look as chic off the runway ason. These appeared in great long coats and new suit variations, manywith sporty jackets. Everything was shown with pants (most often skinnyones), which were Lagerfeld’s big item of the season. Some mimickedjeans, some were knitted; a peekaboo lace version went under agraphically patterned fur jacket. Lest anyone miss the subtlermanifestations of dressing down, he deemphasized evening whilecelebrating intarsia sweaters in the manner of a luxed-up Dr. Huxtable.Through it all, there was sparkle aplenty, in metallic-shot tweeds,raw-cut stone jewelry and a split-personality shoe — half bootie andhalf mary jane, with acrylic and rock crystal heels, a wacky idea thatworked. But then, what was it F. Scott Fitzgerald said? “The test of afirst-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in themind at the same time, put them in a single shoe and retain the aura ofhigh chic.” Or something like that.

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