Grazia's style director Paula Reed is in Shanghai for the unveiling of Karl Lagerfeld’s latest Metier D’Arts collection for Chanel. Here's her inside scoop on last night's spectacular show...
Well, I think we can safely say that in an uncertain world, we can always rely on Karl for a fashion moment.
Have just arrived at Shanghai airport after four hours sleep and one of the most spectacular fashion events I have ever seen. Needless to say, it started with my look. I was loaned a Chanel jacket from the resort collection to wear for the evening: a tight fitting, collarless, waisted, skinny sleeved miracle worker with a peplum, which, even though it covered everything from neck to hip, also made me feel more blessed than oooooh…. Thierry Henri getting away with that handball. For those interested in the details, I wore a jade cocktail ring (also borrowed) from the Winter collection with it. I felt like a million Yuan.
Outside the hotel, the police had stopped the traffic on a four lane highway so the Chanel show guests could cross. The traffic jam stretch both ways for as far as the eye could see. No one looked grumpy. Road rage hasn’t arrived in China yet.
The venue was a specially constructed barge on the waterfront with a runway skirting the length of a transparent wall, so the models walked along a backdrop of the Shanghai skyline. There were more twinkling lights than the Harrods Christmas shop. There was even a full moon, for goodness sake.
Le tout Shanghai had turned out for this one. You’ve got to love the way those Chinese ladies wear their couture. Attention is paid to every detail. There is not a hair out of place. The accessories are perfect. They never mix their designers. In that light, with all those sparkling jewels, it was easy to imagine how Shanghai was once the Paris of the East and not the mushrooming, dusty metropolis it is today.
The show started with a short movie made by Karl and his posse imagining the journey Coco Chanel never made to Shanghai. Her apartment is famously furnished with huge Coromandel screens and she loved a Chinese bronze but she never actually made it to the country. There was Lady Amanda Harlech as the Duchess of Windsor. Stephen Gan as a sinister looking passenger on the Shanghai Express. Heidi Mount as Marlene Dietrich. And actress Jane Schmitt made a spookily convincing Coco Chanel. AmDram, Rue Cambon style.
The show itself was a huge hit. There was enough of the Chinese vernacular for it to live up to its name, but it was rescued from national costume cliche by enough contemporary detailing to make it very 21st century. Try pagoda shoulders (natch!) on curvaceous coats. Or how about scarlet linings flashing under dresses and jackets. Slinky silk kimono wrap dresses and shoulder length silk tassled earrings. My favourite of all was a reprise of Chanel’s classic tweed suit: slim white tweed knee length skirt (‘a woman should never show her knees’, Coco had hissed in the movie, ‘they are ugly’) and jacket trimmed in black and red braid.
The after party featured torch song performances by a very slinky Anna Mouglalis and Vanessa Paradis (who is about to be added to the roster of Chanel advertising faces) and a less convincing turn by Chanel It boy Baptiste Giacobini. True, he had trouble with a dodgy microphone, but the only thing that wasn’t flat was his hair. Superstardom is probably a few singing lessons away, Baptiste.