CHANEL
VIVE L’EXCESS!

CHANEL: Let the Milanists wave the flag of spare. Karl Lagerfeld would rather revel in fashion — and oh, how delighted his legions of Chanel ladies will be. The collection he showed Monday for the house will give them the same rush they get when the stock market soars. Not since the boom years of the Eighties has their penchant for indiscreet chic been so validated: With all of his belts, brooch buttons, brocades and lames, Lagerfeld accumulated enough gold to make Fort Knox look like an amateur’s stash. Such unapologetic and overt fashion bravado was Lagerfeld’s key message. Anonymity be damned, he seemed to say with each and every golden flourish.
But within that theme, Lagerfeld managed to explore a number of references. Much of his collection — especially the long skirts; the lean, strong-shouldered, belted jackets, and the elaborate evening laces — were inspired by his couture collection. He also contrasted high-chic military with London street style — thrift-shop dressing with an army spin — and even tossed in a little early Madonna.
The staging at the Espace Eiffel was a complicated affair, with models emerging from three directions and converging in a circular space rimmed in gold and emblazoned with a giant double-C logo. The whole thing was chaotic from the get-go, and ended up looking like a traffic jam around the Arc de Triomphe.
In the opening, gold was everywhere, shown every which way, in double-breasted coats worn with fedoras, in sexy sheaths and in slim lamA pants under a tweed coat. It was also in the jeweled buttons of Lagerfeld’s Midas military jackets, and in enough shiny mesh belts to lift the spirits of accessories manufacturers everywhere. The models often carried the latest Chanel handbag, a rectangle with a wrist strap inspired by those sported by oily French men — Karl calls it the “heterosexual bag.”
But all that glittered was not gold, and for those dressed-down moments, Lagerfeld opted for colorful, metallic-trimmed cashmere twinsets over iridescent taffeta army fatigues and under bright, puffy parkas. An excess of excess? Sometimes, but Lagerfeld doesn’t believe in doing anything halfway.
In fact, his only stroke of discretion came for evening, with nude slipdresses veiled in a single layer of floaty black chiffon, and, while these were beautiful, they looked like they belonged to another collection — perhaps one in Milan. But Karl got a little jazzier with the cardigans worn with black spangle skirts and frothy sea-urchin hats, and in his finale — a parade of black velvet that he sent out in every conceivable shape — belted, of course, in gold.

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