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Breezy, Serene Chic at Chanel

By Godfrey Deeny

Fashion Wire Daily - Paris - There can be no more glamorous audience anywhere in the world than that at a Chanel show, whose latest event was a breezy, elegant take on fashion kept even cooler by the remarkable stage set.

A dozen massive wind turbines rotated high above the audience inside the Grand Palais at this show, staged Tuesday, Oct. 2, wafting fresh air down on the 2,000 fortunate guests on a balmy day in the French capital.

"I got the idea when I was sketching in St Tropez this summer. It as so impossibly hot all I wanted was fresh air. It was that childish," said Karl Lagerfeld backstage.

Helped by the airy wind, the collection was an ever-so-at-ease affair, which opened with a natty series of black and white looks: loosely cut suits with wide short skirts, all emblazoned with one-inch pearls. Jaunty and sporty throughout, models appeared in baseball jackets and some fab new geometrically striped platforms - sure fired hits and certain to be major fashion influences.

Probably the largest collection in Paris - with close to 100 passages - the designs had a fine Spanish touch, from shortened bolero in graphic weaves, many worn with charming Cordobes riding hats, again extended to three feet in width thanks to a surrounding plastic disk.

Lagerfeld remains the master of what the French call, un clin d'oeil, meaning an insider joke. A subsequent one yard-diameter, thick tubular circle, padded white leather CC logo bag carried by a model in a swimsuit, won loads of knowing winks.

In Paris, a central fashion obsession is a designer's alleged duty to respect the visual "codes" or DNA of a house. Lagerfeld, on the other hand, is such a visually concise designer he can suggest and summon up Chanel, even though he barely touched many of Chanel's typical references.

"There was nothing of the past: no braid, no chains, no camellias, I removed everything," insisted Lagerfeld backstage, slightly straining credibility. He did, notably, include much of one Chanel tradition - pearls; seen as humungous knuckles on metallic bracelets, or ripening in huge bunches in dramatic chokers. Plus the charming instant collectible that is a Chanel show program, this season featured a blond model wearing sunglasses whose ornate frames featured a silhouette of Mademoiselle Chanel wearing four strands of pearls.

"I think given the times, one needs a little serenity," added Lagerfeld, natty as ever as he took questions in a Dior Homme duffle-meets-frock coat and a diamond clip of a sword.

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