Freja Beha Erichsen and three bears on an ice floe. This was the arctic scene at Chanel, where giant chunks of bona fide iceberg, specially transported from Scandinavia, formed the frozen landscape around which models solemnly splashed through a sea of 'berg-melt in shaggy snow boots with ice-block heels.
The Karl conceit of the season, no surprises, was an in-every-way extravagant play on Coco in cold weather. Using more fur than he'd even flung at Fendi—the twist being that here the fur was fake—Lagerfeld steered this collection nearer to couture than ready-to-wear than ever. Fur was woven into brown tweeds; formed deep pelmets on the lower half of leather jackets; became almost igloo-shaped capes, bonnets, even—for goodness' sake—furry trousers. Meanwhile, the suit and coat combinations also had a level of lavish elaboration usually reserved for haute eveningwear. Fur-fringed embroideries and ice jewelry conspired to create intensely worked ruffled and beaded silhouettes that glinted with rock-crystal neckpieces and fistfuls of rings. Somewhere in there, a flash of translucent silver seemed to be a clutch in which the quilting of the CC classic bag had been frozen into the likeness of a refrigerator ice cube tray.
It was a lucky stroke that the weather outside had kindly assisted Chanel in whipping subzero winds around the Grand Palais while this display was going on. Since humans are suggestible, it took only the merest suspension of disbelief to imagine this collection hitting the mark next fall, despite the fact that it will start to be delivered in July—and who knows in which century we'll have another winter like this one? Nevertheless, putting global warming and the melting of ice caps both center stage and on the back burner (as it were), this show swept the audience along as they were treated to such amusements as seeing Karl Lagerfeld's favorite, Baptiste Giabiconi, swagger out of an ice cave in a full-length polar bear coat.
It wasn't all played for laughs. Within the context of a season of innovative knitwear, Chanel's was some of the most outstanding. A group of three short angora sweater dresses, tinted iceberg blue in the center, was an amazing follow-up from something Lagerfeld did with dégradé pastel embroidery in couture. One gray and black cardigan coat was knitted in a bubbly grid to mimic a down-filled puffer. And the finale was given to a wedding dress knitted in silk tulle ribbon to resemble Chanel's bouclé tweed, forming a tight-fitting sweater in the body and then sweeping away in flounces in back. The bride—Freja, again—dangled an ice-block purse on a fur-woven Chanel chain.