Is Karl Lagerfeld entering his woodcutter period? That the 84-year old designer has recently grown a rugged, some would say Jeremy Corbynesque beard might suggest as much. So, too, would the set for his catwalk show in Paris: a forest constructed within the cavernous arches of the Grand Palais, complete with nine towering oak trees imported from the Perche region of France.
With the smell of autumn in the air, and the floor ankle-deep with crunchy crimson leaves, it was all a lot more glamorous on Tuesday morning than your local woods. At one end of the Chanel equivalent of a park bench – the front row – sat Vanessa Paradis and Keira Knightley, resplendent in violet Chanel tweed. At the other, Lily Allen made enthusiastic small talk with Carla Bruni.
The clothes were considerably posher than the average dog-walking outfit, although there was an ease of movement – the first model strode down the catwalk wearing flat, shiny brogues with her hands thrust deep into the pockets of her long black coat – which suggested fashion that had been designed for walking in, comfortably.
The models’ hair was piled on top of the head, a relaxed brunch-date style that also showed off the spectacular earrings. There were black padded jackets, and white versions trimmed with black, like a hybrid of the Uniqlo padded coat seen on high streets everywhere, and the classic Chanel bouclé jacket.
The collection successfully combined Chanel house codes – tweed, little black dresses, pearls – with current trends. The majority of the looks were covered up, tying into the appetite for figure-hiding, roomy silhouettes that has permeated fashion for the past few seasons.
There were several highly realistic fake furs, reflecting the wide use of cruelty-free fluff at major brands from Gucci to Givenchy. Likely to be seen on the street-style circuit in six month’s time were the shiny gold over-the-knee boots, which looked a treat with tweed mini suits.
Most covetable of all were the oversized Chanel logo earrings, one of the interlocking Cs studded with pearls, while its mirror image glinted, gunmetal grey. These were worn by models including Cindy Crawford’s daughter, Kaia Gerber, ensuring they will already be on the radar of the Snapchat generation.
Last season, Lagerfeld’s plastic-themed collection divided opinion, with some questioning the wisdom of fetishising PVC at a time when plastic bottles and bags are the scourge of environmentalists (the question of whether a Chanel plastic handbag is fundamentally different to a landfill-bound sweetshop plastic bag – the argument being that Chanel’s fans would keep that piece forever and pass it down as a heirloom – has been much discussed on the front row ever since). As yet, the environmental impact of this season’s extraordinary set is yet to be confirmed, but in theory, at least – with a preponderance of wools and tweeds, as well as those trees – Lagerfeld went back to nature.
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