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August 1 2014

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Karl In Cannes: A Little Ferry, A Little Fairy Tale

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The Karl Lagerfeld bandwagon rolled out of Cannes on Tuesday as the film festival rolled in. The legendary Croisette is lined with huge billboards promoting Spielberg’s Tintin and the new Transformers and Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs in 3-D!—spectacles all, but even so, their makers could surely learn something from Chanel’s no-expense-spared launch of its latest Cruise collection. The show itself—staged on Monday night in the gardens of the legendary Hotel du Cap, in Antibes—was simply the jewel in the crown of a 24-hour wingding that extended from an alfresco Italian dinner on Sunday night to post-show dancing under a cherry moon accompanied by vintage club sounds from London’s Horse Meat Disco. (OK, it was actually a half moon, but Prince filmed his movie of that name in this very spot, and that’s what inspired Michel Gaubert to opt for a show soundtrack that was heavy on the Purple One.)

Earlier on Monday, there was a picnic in the flower fields of Grasse, where workers were harvesting the rose petals whose distilled essence will eventually make its way into Chanel No. 5, Coco, Mademoiselle, et al. Paraphrasing Diana Vreeland’s legendary observation that pink is the navy blue of India, I’d like to propose that rosé is the tap water of the Riviera. And that was just lunch! The evening’s festivities began on a catwalk that stretched from the hotel down to the sea, with a couple of hundred guests lolling under umbrellas lined along its length. Among them, Blake Lively and Rachel Bilson, whose seemingly random inclusion under the Chanel umbrella actually speaks volumes about Lagerfeld’s own engagement in every eddy of pop culture. The indolence of the event felt truly in tune with his own sense of this part of the world as an enduring playground for the super-rich. It was a mood he captured brilliantly in The Tale of a Fairy, the film that screened as night fell. (Those are stills from the 30-minute flick, above.)

A few decades ago, Lagerfeld featured in L’Amour, one of the last Warhol movies, and there were echoes of Andy in the film Karl showed last night: the anomic glamour, the decadent polymorphousness, the barbed ad-libs (kudos to Amanda Harlech), but most of all the spectacular performance by Kristen McMenamy. The 46-year-old model effortlessly evoked memories of the banked fury of the legendary Holly Woodlawn (whose performance in Trash was so mesmerizing that no less an industry totem than Paul Newman went to bat for her when Oscar nomination time came around). Every great Tennessee Williams role awaits McMenamy, and it’s typical of Lagerfeld that he had the vision to resuscitate that facet of her personality years after she’d faded from fashion’s consciousness. Is Karl the new Andy? He considered the notion for a millisecond, then snorted, “I’ve got better production values.”

After the fairy came the Ferry: the legendary Bryan himself, cleverly reminding his devotees that he adds oomph to Bob Dylan and Sam and Dave just as artfully as he sings his own songs. His performance put the seal on a spectrum of cultural endeavors—from food to fragrance to fashion to funk—that would surely have gladdened Coco’s own legendarily dark heart. Now, how many times did I use the word “legendary” in this account? Times ten and we’re closing in on the sensibility of an event that, at some point in the distant, post-apocalyptic future, will seem like the apogee of a moment when there were people who could make their own dreams come true. How appropriate that it was all about one night in Cannes.

Photos: Courtesy of Chanel

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