Since it's not exactly feasible to invite people to view a Chanel collection in-house, as it used to be done, Karl Lagerfeld instead decided to bring the Rue Cambon to the thousand or so people who crowded into the Grand Palais. A life-size facade of the storied Chanel building at number 31—complete with a street runway—had been dropped into the space. The doors opened, "Our House" by Madness struck up on the sound system, and a line of Chanel-clad pedestrians streamed out.
It was a charming, expensive shot of celebratory fun rolled out with supreme confidence. Lagerfeld said the theme was inspired by a grayish portrait by Marie Laurencin, who painted Coco Chanel in the twenties, but really, it was yet another of his long, allusive, sometimes mischievous excursions around the house set pieces. The fact that there's an untainted core to this label—the tweeds, bows, camellias, and ineffably pretty cocktailwear—means Lagerfeld can take full license to nod to all sides of the road. So, within a relatively tight palette of black, white, and gray, he made free with current references to graphic checks (done in a painterly way on sleeveless suits), metallics and sheerness (in tissue-fine silvery pink lamé and crunchy, sparkly paillette embroideries), and lingerie notes (a bit of boudoir styling in marabou-heeled shoes and frilled negligee sleeves).
This, however, is far from an adequate précis of the multifaceted Chanel action on the runway. It encompassed jumpsuits and Empire gowns, flamenco-cum-western ruffled skirts, black ciré swimwear, and, in the middle of it all, a kitsch skit on the Chanel carrier bag: little shopping bags in pink leather. In the end, though, it was the delicious eveningwear that carried the show to a lovely conclusion: long, narrow skirtsuits with cropped boleros, a pink vertically pleated dress, and, yes, even a gray-tinted cloudy georgette flowing dress that could have sat for Marie Laurencin.