The spectacle Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel staged on Friday night at a Los Angeles airfield was so audacious, so over-the-top, it elicited a standing ovation before the first model hit the people mover. The designer, who took over Grand Central station in New York last May and commandeered a fleet of buses in Paris the year before that, chose a Santa Monica plane hangar for this year's resort extravaganza. He had it decorated like an exclusive airport lounge complete with three cocktail bars, personalized flight bags on each and every seat, and arrival and departure screens listing "Chanel Line" flights. It was on those screens that celebrity guests like Demi Moore, Lindsay Lohan, Diane Kruger, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen first caught sight of not one, but two, Challenger 601 jets approaching the runway. "I love it!" exclaimed Angie Harmon, jumping up from her seat, as the models spilled out of the planes in their first looks.
"Airports and flying have become a nightmare," Lagerfeld had said backstage a few minutes earlier. "L.A. is about the dream of private jets and beautiful cars and glamour. Cruise collections are about the dream of freedom." To open the show, he sent Raquel Zimmermann out in a navy jumpsuit with stripes at the cuffs. A cross between a captain's uniform and a first-class passenger's travel outfit, it had a kind of jet-set practicalitya mix of sportif and utilitarian that carried through to other looks, including a ribbed knit tunic dress, a sequin baseball jacket worn with skinny jeans and a matching cap, and a cargo skirt topped by the familiar Chanel tweed jacket in army green. "I love that he used a lot of color," said Camilla Belle, "especially the salmon pink."
All-out glamour came in the form of black cutout dresses worn over pleated blush-colored silk shifts; narrow satin tunics belted over longer skirts in a style reminiscent of Poiret; piles of accessories (from colorful plastic headbands to quilted bags that glistened like ice to cap-toe clear plastic ankle boots); and a pair of his-and-her robes. "The sequin dressing gowns were genius," said L.A. transplant Victoria Beckham, in vintage Chanel. "Fashion has come to Hollywood. He's paved the way for many more designers, I hope." Maybe so, but the peripatetic Lagerfeld said he's already dreaming about Monte Carlo for his next resort show. He's done planes, trains, and buses, after all. Yachts may be next.