ELLE (Australia) - - Fashion -

un­less they build some­thing big­ger than this cruise ship,” says Mar­got Rob­bie, seem­ingly minis­cule in a mul­ti­coloured se­quinned dress as she stands next to the epi­cally pro­por­tioned La Pausa cruise liner that’s been tem­po­rar­ily docked un­der the nave of the Grand Palais.

Chanel’s pre­ferred Paris run­way venue has been trans­formed into a cruise ship ter­mi­nal for the du­ra­tion of the Cruise 19 show, and newly crowned am­bas­sador Rob­bie has fallen un­der the Chanel spell at her first-ever run­way ex­pe­ri­ence for the house. “I don’t know how it could pos­si­bly be more in­cred­i­ble than it’s al­ready been!”

The ac­tor’s awe-in­spired re­ac­tion isn’t sur­pris­ing. She’s not the first to be Chanel-struck af­ter wit­ness­ing one of the brand’s all-out ex­trav­a­gan­zas. It’s an ini­ti­a­tion process for any­one lucky enough to have an en­trée into the Parisian fash­ion cal­en­dar. And Rob­bie has been on a crash course in all things Chanelian since touch­ing down yes­ter­day. “I’ve had the most Chanel day ever. Hon­estly, I couldn’t be more im­mersed in the world right now. I went to the ar­chives this morn­ing, then to Coco Chanel’s apart­ment, and ob­vi­ously I’m wear­ing Chanel and I’m at the show, it’s just a very Chanel day. And we’re in Paris, at the cen­tre.” For a sec­ond, she’s not an in-de­mand pro­ducer and Golden Globe and Academy Award-nom­i­nated ac­tress, she’s the wide-eyed girl born and raised on a farm in Queens­land. Chanel will do that to you.

It doesn’t take much press­ing to glean Rob­bie’s favourite mo­ment from the show. She loves the open­ing look: the navy-striped trousers, logo-em­bla­zoned sweater and fresh white beret, belt and boat shoes worn by fel­low Aus­tralian, model Adut Akech. “I love nau­ti­cal-themed clothes. I have to stop my­self from buy­ing too much be­cause it ends up be­com­ing my en­tire wardrobe. So when that first out­fit came out – I’m all about the stripes, the berets. It was so cool. So cool. And Coco Chanel started with hats so… you can quiz me, I know ev­ery­thing about her!” she laughs.

“LAGERFELD knows an op­por­tu­nity to SPIN A TALE when he sees one”

Rob­bie is right, her crash course paid off. And, as with most of Karl Lagerfeld’s col­lec­tions for Chanel, it is help­ful to un­der­stand the con­text he is work­ing in to truly un­der­stand the ge­nius be­hind the stage­craft. Back to the be­gin­ning, when Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, fash­ion’s most vi­sion­ary woman, was busy trans­form­ing what started out as a mod­est millinery busi­ness into the be­he­moth the brand is to­day, she pre­sented a small col­lec­tion in the au­tumn of 1919, with the in­ten­tion of de­liv­er­ing light and easy clothes des­tined for hol­i­day re­sorts – her beloved Riviera town Biar­ritz in par­tic­u­lar.

The col­lec­tion built on the sailor-suit out­fits she had al­ready pre­sented in the sea­side re­sort Deauville years be­fore, rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the rigid­ity of womenswear worn in that era. The cruise col­lec­tion, per­fectly timed be­tween sea­sons and aimed at the up­wardly mo­bile, was born, and fash­ion­able yacht­ing, cruis­ing and sea­side strolling would never be the same.

A skil­ful sto­ry­teller, Karl Lagerfeld knows an op­por­tu­nity to spin a tale when he sees one. This time, the cre­ative direc­tor’s ref­er­ences in­cluded im­ages of Coco ir­rev­er­ently dressed in tomboy Ber­muda shorts or wide-cut men’s trousers and an over­sized blazer, eyes shaded by big, round sun­glasses and bask­ing on the deck of one of the yachts be­long­ing to her lover, the Duke of West­min­ster.

For 2018, it wasn’t Coco but Gigi and Bella Ha­did, Cather­ine Mcneil and Stella Maxwell pulling into port in a se­ries of the mod­ern twin-sets. These aren’t the type your pri­mary-school li­brar­ian liked to wear – these are match­ing tweed skirt suits cut loose from the body, slim capri-cut pas­tel pantsuits worn with but­toned-up shirts, striped knit top and skirt sets, se­quinned evening sets (re­veal­ing just a sliver of waist) and two-piece top and bot­toms that feel just as right for the Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val as they do for a place at the Cap­tain’s ta­ble.

“The lit­tle all-white bouclé suit Cather­ine was wear­ing is a fu­ture-clas­sic, but youth­ful and to­tally wear­able at the same time,” ELLE fash­ion direc­tor Rachel Wayman noted from her front-row van­tage point. “The jacket is a cooler cut, over­sized, rounded shoul­ders and a lit­tle shape­less (in the best pos­si­ble way). I love how it’s teamed with a miniskirt but I’d also break it down and team it with denim.” She pre­dicts the chic turtle­necks and La Pausa swing­ing mi­cro-bags (named af­ter a prop­erty Coco owned in the charm­ing vil­lage of Ro­que­brune-cap-martin) will be street-style favourites this sea­son, along with striped ev­ery­thing and no-brainer berets in tweed, cot­ton or se­quins. “The white tights may or may not work off the run­way, but team those suits with lit­tle bal­let slip­pers or sneak­ers, a T-shirt un­der­neath – you’re set.”

SHIP­PING NEWS Mar­got Rob­bie at her first Chanel show, the Cruise 19 col­lec­tion

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Lagerfeld had a 100mlong ocean liner con­structed in the mid­dle of the Grand Palais

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