Feathers and fountains in Chanel's French garden

5th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Karl Lagerfeld conjured the spirit of Versailles for Chanel Tuesday in a glamorous procession of feathers, faux-tweed, rips and lace.

Under the vast glass domes of Paris' Grand Palais exhibition hall, models walked out on white gravel between fountains and black rock "hedges", a wintry French garden effect to showcase Chanel's ready-to-wear look for next summer.

Actress Keira Knightley and singers Lily Allen and Courtney Love were among the famous faces who graced the front rows as the hall filled with a symphonic orchestra's renditions of pop anthems from Bjork to Oasis.

"It's Versailles. It's -- quote -- 'dead French'," the designer quipped after the show.

Models wore silver or gold platform ankle boots or platform sandals that morphed into black leather thigh boots, their hair pulled back into slick pony tails or cut short and boyish.

Chanel classics were there -- but sexed-up and revisited -- like faux-tweed skirt suits in pastel yellow and pink, or jackets twinned with risque mini-shorts in black, ivory or lime green.

A navy blue knitted dress flowed into a see-through pencil skirt that left the top of the thighs -- and even a bit more -- completely bare.

Ostrich feathers puffed out a jacket, spiced up the hem of a tweed-effect dress, or dressed a model head to toe, in a coral sleeveless dress that swept caressingly around the legs.

Both the decor and feathers, Lagerfeld said, were a tribute to the enigmatic 1961 film "Last Year in Marienbad", set partly in a French chateau garden, for which Coco Chanel designed the costumes.

Dayside fabrics were given a roughing-up, with ripped holes piercing black and white jackets, while a baby-pink satin dress had rectangular panels of slashed strips like shredded paper.

Skinny grey jeans had ripped featuring too, creating tiny holes that gave a peek at the pink or yellow underneath.

"Fashion changes, fabrics change -- that's what is fascinating. But there has to be a certain mystery in novelty," Lagerfeld told reporters of the show's trompe l'oeil tweed, rips and other quirks.

For evening, Chanel's trademark black was back en force, with 1980s top model and former face of Chanel, Ines de la Fressange, closing the display in a black lace gown of opaque and see-through stripes.

"We've seen enough of 15-year-old Russians," he told AFP after the show. "Fashion shouldn't be reserved to teenagers."

In an radically different register, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac flew Paris to a comic-book jungle.

Impeccable attendants and stewards in black wool suits with shiny brass buttons and angled flight caps welcomed the ready-to-wear Fashion Week crowd on board the designer's "Uber Tropical Airlines" flight -- or UTA for short.

White provided the backdrop for the explosions of colour that followed, like a plain pencil skirt and shirt that were paired with rainbow coloured heeled boots with rows of buckles.

Models with big, curly hair carried a glitter-covered ghetto-blaster for an accessory or dangling gold Eiffel Towers as pendants, while literal-minded leopard prints had big cat faces staring out.

Quotes and images from jungle-themed literature packed the collection, including Saint Exupery's "Little Prince".

A white caftan was printed with the cover of Louis-Ferdinand Celine's "Night Flight", while blue and green African-style prints featured the comic-book character "Felix the Cat."

"This is not an evening dress," winked a red satin gown overlaid with black ribbon.

"My inspiration is life -- fun beauty, tropicalism," the designer told AFP after the show. "It's a mix of the past and modernity -- of authenticity and karaoke," he quipped.

"It's metaphorical too -- about the idea of the union of peoples."

Other offbeat asides included a sleeveless top made from brown sunglasses, or a yellow dress with an elephant's face printed on the front -- its trunk reaching cheekily down between the thighs.

© 2010 AFP

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