What does one do after a magical undersea romp? Karl Lagerfeld booked a Chanel journey to the center of the Earth, filled with rich-toned minerals of sparkling hues, where the granite sand glistened and huge stalagmites of various grays and purples (think anthracite and amethyst) soared high beneath the dome of the Grand Palais. Tilting this way and that, they evoked an off-kilter urban skyline, prompting Lagerfeld to quip in a preview that “nature makes a good designer, no?”
Yes, especially when ghost-designed by Lagerfeld himself. If exploring the depths of terra firma didn’t inspire the same level of awe as spring’s masterful oceanic excursion, it still offered a wealth of great clothes and a welcome dose of entertainment near the end of a long season.
The designer was of two minds in terms of mood. His randomly slanted obelisks had a vaguely post-apocalyptic feel, and the girls walked with pounding attitude, their expressions stern under brows jeweled with raw-cut stones. But how genuine can angst be when delivered via so pretty a palette? The clothes, though they seemed to roam, were in fact rooted in a single fabulous idea: Chanel sportif.
Lagerfeld’s mineral mode made for a savvy way with color — deep purples, blues, greens, grays and some reds — that will look as chic off the runway as on. These appeared in great long coats and new suit variations, many with sporty jackets. Everything was shown with pants (most often skinny ones), which were Lagerfeld’s big item of the season. Some mimicked jeans, some were knitted; a peekaboo lace version went under a graphically patterned fur jacket. Lest anyone miss the subtler manifestations of dressing down, he deemphasized evening while celebrating 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 and half mary jane, with acrylic and rock crystal heels, a wacky idea that worked. But then, what was it F. Scott Fitzgerald said? “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, put them in a single shoe and retain the aura of high chic.” Or something like that.