Chanel: Karl Lagerfeld takes couture to the south, but does not take a bow
As Paris was submerged by a heavy snow fall, Chanel took a voyage to a sunny Mediterranean setting for its latest haute couture show inside the Grand Palais, where to great surprise, Karl Lagerfeld, for the first time in living memory, did not take a bow.
Instead, his right-hand woman Virginie Viard, standing before a giant mural of a Tuscan villa, received the applause from the audience of 600 alongside 20-year-old green eyed Italian model Vittoria Ceretti, wearing a glittering silver swimsuit with matching skullcap and train. Esther Williams with panache and punch.
Then, within seconds after the final passage of the whole cast, Michel Gaubert, the DJ who has scored Lagerfeld’s shows for the past several decades, took to the microphone.
“Ladies and gentlemen, a few seconds of your attention please. As you have noticed, Monsieur Lagerfeld today asked Virginie Viard, as director of the creative studio, to represent him at the end of this magnificent collection inspired by the 18th century. We await Monsieur Lagerfeld for the second show. Thank you for your attention, I would now ask you please to make room for our teams to set up the next show. We wish you all the very best day,” announced Gaubert in first English and then French.
Chanel, depending on the size of their set, often stages two haute couture shows, traditionally on Tuesday mornings, at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Post-show, the storied French label issued a statement on the designer's absence which read: "For the traditional greeting at the end of the show, Mr Lagerfeld, artistic director of Chanel, who was feeling tired, asked Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house, to represent him and greet the guests alongside the bride. Virginie Viard as creative studio director and Eric Pfrunder as Chanel’s director of image continue to work with him and follow through with the brand’s collections and image campaigns."
Staged inside a marvelous formal garden, with a neo-classical stone swimming pool, clipped lawns and soaring Mediterranean pine and palm trees, the action opened the latest take on the Chanel suit – this season in check wool bouclé, cut with extended skirt, slashed down one side; or finished with inverted lapels and the décolleté shoulders of Georgian courtiers.
For evening, Lagerfeld whipped up some beautifully curvaceous silk gowns, nipped at the waist and flared to below the knee, with floral petticoats underneath. All looking like very marvelous modern-day Marie Antoinettes.
The German couturier varied the pace throughout, suddenly surprising with a tremendous white marabou feather maxi-skirt topped by black double-breasted biker jackets. Then immediately inverting the following look with a fantastic feathered bolero over a leather pencil skirt. The assurance and skill striking throughout.
The cast, delightfully refined with hair piled vertically up six inches like a Versailles princess, finished with precious earrings. The soundtrack was upbeat from Henry Mancini to a finale of that classic by pop icon Dalida, 'Paroles, Paroles.' Everything smooth and refined, until the sudden jolt of the announcement. Which, quite frankly, raised more questions than it answered.
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