The set of a Chanel show is the gold standard of fashion excess: icebergs, forests, the world after the world has ended…nothing is too much for Karl Lagerfeld. The set for today's couture presentation gave nothing away—an enormous glistening white tube loomed center stage, so blank that its only possible promise was revolution. And revolve it duly did. When it revolved, it revealed shaggy French pop star Sébastien Tellier, his orchestra, and two giant sweeping staircases fresh out of an Art Deco fantasia from the Hollywood thirties. No, Lagerfeld corrected, "It's an ice palace, a nightclub on another planet."

He knew those stairs, the kind of stairs down which vedettes would make a grand entrance, posing every step of the way. Couture stairs. So he had his models sprint down them, as light as fairies, skipping and spinning. It was an adorably spritely fuck you to any notion of heritage. And yet Lagerfeld also strapped his fey young things into corsets with stays, the very thing that Coco herself cast off in the name of modernity nearly a century ago. He compared them to motocross belts. "This is ballroom-cross," he joked. Laughter aside, the supreme irony of corseting a Chanel woman was surely not lost on smart cookie Karl.

Anyway, the corseted midriff was the core over which he laid a bolero (or crop top) and a short skirt for the collection's defining look. It was energetic, athletic…and it was really the only thing that could successfully match the footwear. Every outfit featured a couture sneaker by Massaro: python, with lace, pearls, and tweed. (If you're curious about the cost of such an item, the price tag will probably be something in the vicinity of €3,000.)

In the spirit of sportiness, there were also knee and elbow pads, and there was athletic-wear transfigured: A crystallized blouson was one of the prettiest pieces in the collection. In fact, the luminescence of the trim, lively clothing seemed doubly noteworthy, given that yesterday's Dior Couture show was also about light and movement. The two most significant fashion houses in France just made a major commitment to a new generation…to the future, in fact.