Possibly the most glamorous tourists ever to hit LondonKarl Lagerfeld and the Chanel possearrived in town this week in a flurry of flashbulbs to present the house's Métiers d'Art pre-fall collection over a two-day razzle-dazzle round of cocktails, dinners, and partying. Why? It's the right time and the right place to bring out a super-special collection, sandwiched in a sweet new spot of luxury between ready-to-wear and haute couture. As Lagerfeld explained it, "There's a new clientele now, Russian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, South American, and they're young and they're all tinysize 36, 38. They have no problem fitting into standard sizes." And many of them (thanks to Gordon Brown's favorable tax laws) happen to be discreetly domiciled in the U.K. capital, perchance on the lookout for something just a little more gorgeous to wear on London's now extremely dressed-up social circuit.
Voilà: Métiers d'Art, the collection conceived to give creative vent to the decorative arts of the specialist embroidery, costume jewelry, millinery, feather-making, silversmithing, and boot-making ateliers Chanel acquired in 2002. The resulting show, staged at Phillips de Pury in Victoria, loosely played as a time-traversing game of English/French translations centered on the backstory of Coco Chanel's relationships with Arthur "Boy" Capel and the Duke of Westminster. Those dalliances cemented her abiding love of tweed, sailor stripes, cashmere knits, andthanks to the indulgent Dukegigantic love jewels, worn in rule-breaking multiples. Brought up-to-date, the look involves towering beehives and Amy Winehouse-meets-Daphne Guinness eyeliner, tweed coats with edges apparently tattered but actually detailed with rills of chiffon and feather, a chubby made of ostrich plumes, bejeweled redingotes, chiffon zippered armlets, gilded shearling leather, and layered cashmereall finished here and there with brooch-studded gauntlets and flat, pointy loafers with a chunk of sparkle on the toe. Emma Watson, Rinko Kikuchi, Natalia Vodianova, Charlotte Casiraghi, Thandie Newton, and the very British Lilys, Allen and Cole, drank it all in as Irina Lazareanu belted out the backing music. Afterward, they headed off to Amy Sacco's Bungalow 8 outpost at St. Martins Lane hotel.