Karl Lagerfeld on Tuesday celebrated the story of French fashion house Chanel in a show set around a huge globe showing how the label has grown from a single boutique in the seaside town of Deauville to a global brand with a presence in hundreds of cities. Blasts of Tchaikovsky filled Paris’s vast Grand Palais for the opening of the show attended by a string of famous faces including Princess Caroline of Monaco, model Milla Jovovich, photographer Mario Testino and actresses Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Paradis.
“It’s very simple. One hundred years ago Chanel opened its first boutique at Deauville, today 100 years after there are 300″ outlets worldwide, Lagerfeld told us on the penultimate day of Paris fashion week.
After the Deauville shop opened in 1913, founder Coco Chanel, who died in 1971, opened another boutique at Biarritz in 1915.
Today the label’s 300 outlets include 185 boutiques in cities such as Sao Paulo, Calgary, New Delhi, Istanbul and Brisbane.
“Wherever you see a flag there’s a Chanel shop,” said Lagerfeld pointing to the rotating 40-foot- (12-metre-) high globe.
“I can be very happy and pleased because when I started there were three or four 30 years ago, so it’s not that bad,” he said, adding however that the main credit was due to the company.
“I am there to do (this) it’s part of my job, it’s not an ego trip. They (Chanel) played the game, they invested, developed…,” he said.
Lagerfeld’s autumn/winter 2013/14 ready-to-wear collection featured knitwear, short wool suits and column dresses teamed with “double” boots comprising a second legging-type element extending over the knee.
“It’s chic sexy, I think, discreet sexy, it’s not obvious, it’s not sex shop sexy,” he said, explaining that the boots gave “balance and proportion” to the look.
Lagerfeld added that he loved knitwear and column dresses which he said made women look “tall and slender”.
Reacting after the show, Chastain said she “loved everything” about the collection especially the way Lagerfeld was able to combine elegance and romance.
“Many pieces were quintessential Coco… like the low-waisted dresses,” she said.
“Karl makes everything look very wearable. I found it all extraordinary,” she added.
Vanessa Paradis was equally impressed.
“I loved it,” she said. “The show amazed me.”
Meanwhile, fashion watchers were on Tuesday still unsure how to react to Saint Laurent designer Hedi Slimane’s young, grungy collection presented on Monday evening.
The designer, famed for his pencil-thin skinny tailoring, divided the fashion industry with his first women’s wear collection for Saint Laurent last October.
Trade journal Women’s Wear Daily on Tuesday said it understood the company wanted Slimane to capture a younger clientele with a more youthful look.
And it noted the much-anticipated collection’s use of expensive clothes to express a “down-market attitude”.
Retailers who had loved his debut collection would love this one too, it said.
But it added: “Is playing a cutesy, disaffected-youth hand enough to propel the house of Saint Laurent into today’s luxury stratosphere — especially if the targeted air space is that in which Chanel and Dior reside?”
On Twitter, one woman called it “luxury grunge”, while another said “a bit disconcerted by the Slimane show, seductive but light years away from Mr Saint Laurent’s style”.