In a season when coat-dresses and skirtsuits have risen to somewhere near the top of the item charts, Chanel presented a series of fashion's most poised and charming versions. That formula transmitted some of the loveliness of Karl Lagerfeld's sublime origami-paper Spring Couture collection into super-feminine white collar and cuff treatments—frothy plissé ruffs, chiffon camellias, and French maid frills encircled the neck or sleeves on soft, fitted black silhouettes. Cleverly, today's outing also achieved a rare balance between being grown-up and youthful—a note set by the casting of Karen Elson to open the show. Here was a fabulous-looking 30-year-old woman, rather than some anonymous waif.

Lagerfeld tagged the collection "Belle Brummell," a gender-reassigned quip referring to the British Regency dandy who dictated men's fashion by tying his cravats in ever more elaborate configurations. The pun also gave full permission to bring the classic Chanel white georgette blouse into play, a perfect device for subtracting the austerity from black in a distinctly Rue Cambon manner. Lagerfeld worked it every which way, in bouclé, lace, knit, satin, and paillettes, while also making a witty swerve in the direction of the season's motorcycle leathers (interpreted here in slim drop-waist dresses) and puffer jackets.

What color there was turned up in brief passages of pale green or baby pink. Admittedly, that green wasn't the most felicitous shade in the palette for clothing, but it was really there to underline the presence of the jade Deco-style pendants and neckpieces—a further echo of which could be found in the jade rings implanted in several pairs of heels. All in all, though, this wasn't one of Chanel's more playful simultaneous broadcasts to the world—more a serious reinforcement of the brand's eternal attractions.