Chanel unin­spired this sea­son

But fans will be sure to buy it any­way

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS - The Washington Post

PARIS — This sea­son it was a cliff. With wa­ter­falls. And trees. In the mid­dle of the Grand Palais.

For its spring 2018 fash­ion show, Chanel con­structed a mas­sive won­der­land in the mid­dle of the city, as usual. In the past, there have been con­vinc­ing it­er­a­tions of ice­bergs and bistros, art gal­leries and gro­cery stores.

This time, the rock face was so con­vinc­ing that as mod­els emerged from a craggy tun­nel, wind gen­er­ated from the plung­ing wa­ter blew off their lit­tle plas­tic rain hats.

De­signer Karl Lager­feld de­liv­ered the brand’s sig­na­ture bouclé jack­ets in iri­des­cent shades of aqua and sea green. White fringe on a jacket suggested foam churned up by fast-mov­ing wa­ter.

The re­flec­tive fringe on another en­sem­ble called to mind moon­light on the sur­face of a still lake. And, of course, there was plenty of blue.

If there was any doubt about the col­lec­tion’s con­nec­tion to this rus­tic land­scape, the mod­els also wore clear plas­tic rain scarves, pon­chos and boots, some em­bel­lished for a lit­tle oomph.

That ex­tra em­bel­lish­ing was prob­a­bly un­nec­es­sary: Many Chanel cus­tomers, the ones with the dough at least, are a bit like Dead­heads in their ob­ses­sive loy­alty.

It doesn’t mat­ter if the style doesn’t re­ally change from one sea­son to the next, or if a sea­son isn’t par­tic­u­larly in­spired. It’s the back cat­a­logue and the con­vivi­al­ity that they love and de­sire.

It’s a won­der to look around at a Chanel au­di­ence and see guests draped in en­sem­bles that cost the equiv­a­lent of car. At Tues­day morn­ing’s se­cu­rity check point, ed­i­tors mar­veled at the stream of Chanel bags rolling through the X-ray ma­chines. Tens of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of quilted and be­daz­zled prod­uct.

A Chanel show is filled with smil­ing, selfie-snap­ping guests. It doesn’t mat­ter that Chanel doesn’t change enor­mously from one sea­sons to the next; the house’s sig­na­ture shapes, fab­rics and flour­ishes are sim­ply tweaked and ma­nip­u­lated. That’s not easy. In fact, it’s quite chal­leng­ing to give peo­ple more of what they know, while mak­ing it all feel new and ex­cit­ing and pur­chase-wor­thy.

A dy­namic set that clearly and loudly an­nounces the stature of a brand is help­ful to the cause. As one ed­i­tor wryly noted, fash­ion cus­tomers are as sus­cep­ti­ble to “ir­ra­tional ex­u­ber­ance” as stock mar­ket spec­u­la­tors.

So it’s no won­der that the largest fash­ion companies here use their fi­nan­cial heft and cul­tural clout to fi­nesse set­tings that leave guests open­mouthed with amaze­ment and de­sire.

Last week, Saint Lau­rent had the Eif­fel Tower sparkling on com­mand. Over the week­end, Givenchy set­tled into the Palais de Jus­tice.

The sea­son opened with Dior set­ting up shop in the court­yard of the Rodin mu­seum and it will end with Louis Vuit­ton invit­ing guests into the Lou­vre.

The clothes may or may not be won­der­ful.

But the grand set­ting ar­gues that the brand is im­por­tant, there­fore it’s prod­ucts must be, too. And im­por­tant clothes are worn by im­por­tant peo­ple.

This col­lec­tion was not one of Chanel’s bests.

It had some win­ning looks and some clunkers, too – es­pe­cially the dis­tressed and lace em­broi­dered denim. But it was wholly suc­cess­ful in com­mu­ni­cat­ing the en­dur­ing glory of its place in the cul­ture.

And surely the Chanel-heads were pleased.

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