A Chanel carousel fitted out with giant quilted bags, camellias, pearls, boaters, and bows faced the audience as it poured into the Grand Palais for the Fall Ready-to-wear show. It was a fitting metaphor for the timeless turning of the house classics, and for the unstoppable machine fashion has become these days. The instinct, on arrival, was to prepare to hold on tight. How fast would this thing be set to whiz? How many blur-speed notions would Karl Lagerfeld manage to whip past us this time?

Thankfully, instead of the past few seasons' bamboozling surges of styles, all that transpired was that the girls walked in a circle, then climbed aboard the turning merry-go-round so that the clothes could be viewed again at leisure. It was worth a second and third look because this was a collection that, in spite of its something-Chanel-for-everyone variety, also provided gimmick-free commentary on current trends. Lagerfeld didn┐t miss a trick, from fragile, frothy, high-necked blouses to spidery knits, peplum jackets, and an intelligent exploration of how longer lengths might be worked into a winter wardrobe. It could be as a tweed maxi column skirt with a delicate blouse (the literal version), but also as a long, cutaway ostrich-trimmed coat over a short skirt (newer and cooler). And what of austerity chic, the subject du jour? Lagerfeld's witty take was an updated retread of Coco Chanel's "poverty de luxe," so that the tweed suits came with worn-through elbows or scatterings of faux-darned patches. Nothing too heavy, of course, because Lagerfeld is not one to take passing fashion issues, even recession, too seriously. But in its relative restraint, reserved color, and holding back on accessory overload, this collection was a smart way to prove that whatever goes around comes around, and ends up looking just as Chanel as ever.