From icebergs to apocalypse, Chanel's stage sets have established the goalposts for Napoleonic excess in fashion. Today's backdrop featured a wind farm and solar panels. The reason? "The wind and sun are free," Karl Lagerfeld said disingenuously. They would have been the only things that were, in a presentation that was so overwhelming in its scale it was no easy task for the sweet clothes to make an impression. Still, there were clear messages. The silhouette was dominated by an A-line or a bolero. Lagerfeld loved the skirt dress—pulled up in a bustier style—as opposed to the shirtdress. (In chambray, it said all you need to know about the ever-younger spirit of Karl's Chanel, with its supporting cast of new muses.) The graphic quality felt new, in keeping with the stripey shirt and tie the designer himself wore. He claimed his three-dimensional cutouts in chiffon dresses were designed to introduce airiness to volume. "Normally they don't go together," Lagerfeld offered. Maybe it was that desire for lightness—in what has been an often dark season—that also saw him shelve the braid, the buttons, and the chains in favor of a liberal scattering of pearls.
There is always so much on a Chanel catwalk that a slightly schizophrenic quality inevitably begins to insinuate itself. Did a cobalt blue smock top truly come from the same creative source as sheer, tatter-trimmed hostess pajamas? But in the end, the path of excess did lead to the palace of wisdom, or at least the clarity of dressy white pieces appliquéd with flowers that looked like candy wrappers. Sweetness prevailed.
Back to that set: Lagerfeld was in love with the architectural modernism of the wind turbines, but the message of sustainable energy seemed particularly pertinent to a designer who possesses the resilience of a man a quarter his age. "Energy is the most important thing in life" were Lagerfeld's words from the wise. "The rest comes later."