Karl Lagerfeld's ability to stretch the template of Chanel this way and that according to the moment never ceases. This season, the block-heeled sixties spectator boot he first showed for couture gave him the starting point to design upward into a young and leggy look. Let les autres turn to the omnipresent Balenciaga influence; for Lagerfeld, there's no need to look beyond the Rue Cambon for a reason to make a newly proportioned short tweed suit. Just as it was in the fifties and sixties when Coco competed with Cristobal, now Chanel's slim coats and jackets, worn with ruffled blouses and jewel-buckled belts, represent the authentically sourced Paris alternative to the oft-quoted architectural volumes of Signor B.

Though it was mainly black, with touches of white, cream, and dull pink, Lagerfeld's collection didn't come off as one of the season's solemn pronouncements on sobriety and restraint. Instead, he worked texture, sparkle, and girlishness into surfaces and styling: He used satin ribbons and bows for hair bands and bodices, raw edgings on hems, and gemstones and crystals set in big brooches or as bejeweled necklines set into evening dresses. As a contemporary twist on the classic Chanel bag he added an oversize unstructured hand-held tote—something like a laundry bag, but in patent leather, with a short chain handle.

As always, the Chanel presentation zipped pell-mell through many options. There were simple sleeveless little black dresses and short redingotes, flared from the waist (the best in plain herringbone tweed). For evening, Lagerfeld checked off more points of the season, from exaggerated puff-sleeves to sixties Edie-ish baby dolls and various renderings of chiffon dresses layered over trousers. Cute and young was the general impression, but—no surprise—Lagerfeld also ensured that classic Chanel's all-encompassing sweep remained firmly in the mind's eye.