Star-filled Chanel show creates Parisian boulevard

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

PARIS (AP) — They were styles literally made to be worn on the street. But not just any street: this was Chanel's boulevard.

Karl Lagerfeld did it again Tuesday— producing the most outlandish ready-to-wear show of the season by reconstructing an entire Parisian neighborhood inside the Grand Palais, attended by stars including Baz Luhrmann.

But Monsieur Lagerfeld is also a political activist — and waged a street protest with Gisele Bundchen to decry the rise of the far-right in French politics.

Not bad for a mere 10 minute show.

Here are the highlights and show reports of the day's spring-summer 2015 collections, including Valentino and Iris Van Herpen.


Guests gawped as they entered the set: a boulevard with pedestrian crossing surrounded by towering 19th century trompe l'oeil apartments. There were 3-D verandas, and even real puddles that shimmered in the dazzling camera flashes.

One fashion insider said the only thing missing from the Parisian realism in this Chanel show was some pedigree dog waste on the sidewalk.

But this is Chanel, darling, and instead there were perfume bottles on the seats.

There were also some clothes.

The spring-summer look was all about color, and mixing up masculine and feminine codes.

A double breasted tweed jacket opened the 88-look show, with a multicolored tie and dappled blue tweed.

Truncated bolero jackets, shawls, long 19th-century dandy coats and oversized knee-high boots came in multicolor, as if stroked by a painter's brush.

"The artist is myself — without wanting to be pretentious," said Lagerfeld.

There was also some enviable silver looks, with scale-like texture, like on a column or shoulder-less dress with black tulle.

There were perhaps too many styles, and with the myriad colors, the focus seemed at times blurred.

Still, a striped section was great, showcased to "oohs" and "aahs" by uber model Gisele Bundchen in beige sock shoes.


It's not the first time outspoken Lagerfeld has delved into politics. During heated gay marriage debates last year in France, he showcased a Lesbian couture wedding.

In Tuesday's show all the models, including it-girl Cara Delevigne, filed out as a group in a mock feminist protest against the French far-right.

Gisele held a loudspeaker and marched next to placards reading message such as "Freedom."

Lagerfeld said he thought freedoms were increasingly in jeopardy in France with the rise of Marine Le Pen's Front National party.

"I thought it was a moment to insist a little again, especially in France. (It's going) backward... Especially with the party called the National Font," said Lagerfeld.

"Chanel has a kind of power. People look at it. I think that's a good thing," he added.


It was a tour of Italy behind powerhouse Valentino's spring-summer show.

Designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri said they were inspired by the 18th century tradition of the "Grand Tour," when cultured young Europeans would take an educational trip in Italy "to explore the art, philosophy and traditions."

Laced Roman sandals, traditional lace detailing and tunic silhouettes came alongside long and loose embroidered skirts in indigo blue.

Not all went smoothly on this voyage, such as a series of coats and gowns in rather large baroque motif, which seemed a little overbearing.

But what the designers described as an "itinerant spirit," worked with panache on the contemporary looks with shades, exposed midriff and tops that were cut to reveal a vertical side slice of the torso.

The collection ended on a high note that could be called "under the sea," with prints of star fish and a diaphanous series of pastel chiffon gowns.


Some chose summer settings.

But this was provocative Dutch wunderkind Iris van Herpen.

Naturally, she chose something as wacky as CERN's Large Hadron Collider to inspire her jagged-edged spring show.

The world's largest particle physics laboratory, the program notes pointed out, has a magnetic field 20,000 times of the earth, and this trickled down into some of the styles.

The first part of the show played it surprisingly safe, with muted rotation on the LBD (little black dress) and black pants — featuring metallic blue appliques.

But then there were killer heels: unique, gargantuan spiky forms "grown" using magnetic fields.

The show excelled toward the end with one organic-looking "dress" made out of rigid translucent plastic crystal that was made from 3D printing.

Elsewhere, (literally) cutting-edge technology like injection molding birthed one gray cocoon-like high collared dress with voluminous sides.

The collection produced some of the most imaginative pieces seen this season.


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