Between references to air travel and the color blue, one could quip for days about Karl Lagerfeld’s latest couture effort for Chanel. The sky’s the limit! Karl’s Rhapsody in Bleu! Fashion’s higher plane! Up, up and away! And not a word of it hyperbole.
Yet wordplay can sometimes divert attention from the essence of it all. Simply put, time and again Lagerfeld proves himself the master of his craft, and his relationship with Chanel, the gold standard of such pairings.
The Chanel collection that took flight on Tuesday morning was remarkable. In what must be a major effort to one-up himself every time out, here Lagerfeld commissioned a plane — the inside of one, at least, constructed of anodized aluminum — for installation in the Grand Palais. With its superwide, 164-foot aisle; sleek, modernist seating for 250; Double-C monogrammed carpet and the niftiest bar cart you’ll ever see, it convinced you in the moment that air travel was chic once more.
Any shtick, however, is only as compelling as the main event. And in fashion — particularly the couture — the clothes must be the main event. And so they were, in countless shades of blue comprising Lagerfeld’s “monochrome rainbow.” There was fashion news aplenty, starting with a lean, straight silhouette with pockets positioned low on the hips for a mood that was young with a sly shot of attitude. The prevailing collar on jackets and dresses was a stand-up boat line running from shoulder to shoulder, often held in place with jewel-encrusted panels invisible from the runway. Sleeves were full, and many of the skirts, long.
Evening was nothing short of mesmerizing, a litany of blues from the gentlest pale for an unembellished ingenue organza dress to high-gloss navies for a bevy of high-shine stunners: a pleated tiered dress; a little halter tossed over frothy sleeves; an elegant, elongated chemise. These were decorated inventively, each embroidery different from the next, right down to saucy sparkle that shimmered on the nude hose. In fact, the materials for night and day resulted from intense fabric development. Thus, the glimmer came a myriad of ways, from the traditional trappings of couture (crystals, bugle beads, sequins) to more unusual treatments (cabochons, PVC petals) to a remarkable range of fabrics, from dégradé tweeds to one that looked like crisp, whisper-thin cellophane.
After the show, Lagerfeld emerged from the cockpit to take his bow. His assessment? “No Fifties, no Sixties, no Seventies. Just what I like.”