Karl takes photos of his fans taking photos of him
When we finally flopped at the end of three Chanel days in Tokyo, it was at the last after party. The reason for this evening's party was the opening of the Chanel pop up boutique in Sibuya where, if you happen to be travelling east this spring, you will find a full stock of the greatest hits of the summer sea inspired collection: pearl harness/necklaces, a generous stock of the mille feuille organza dresses, those silver bags with sequins applied like fish scales and several of those cute bags wrapped in chains like Chanel parcels.
Having carefully considered and written our fantasy shopping lists, we took off for the party in Minato Ku, a riverside industrial area where the location of the evening's revels was a working sugar warehouse, where the workers had clearly been given at least a week off to give the Chanel team time to set up among the palettes and bails of wrapping material and make room for one bar manned by sushi chefs, another tended by cocktail mixologists and a third presided over by the kings of canapes from Dean And DeLuca weilding foie gras and hunks of manchego cheese on cocktail sticks.
After three glasses of champagne we barely noticed that there was only a plastic curtain between us and the rain lashed, windswept outside but by that stage it hardly mattered. Tokyo had turned out in its fashionable finery, Azelia Banks was getting ready to play a set and there was standing room only in the VIP area with Clemence Poesy, Vanessa Paradis and Alice Dellal all jostling for space on the banquette.
Karl, Sebastian and Amanda Harlech are the heart of the Chanel family
The prompt to start proceedings was the arrival of Karl. And from our vantage point to the left of where he was to be seated, we got the merest glimpse of what it is like to be a major fashion star. From the very first sighting of his familiar powdered ponytail a roar and round of applause went up from the crowd. Once he had reached his seat, the Tokyo party going crowd turned into a bank of mobile phone wielding photographers. We took photographs of them taking photographs of him.
Once he'd had a chance to settle, I wondered how he was feeling. 'I am a little tired,' he said. Had he enjoyed Tokyo? 'The atmosphere is great, no? But I have to admit I have worked from the moment I arrived here. I haven't set foot once in the street. I would like to have seen more of the city but I think what we have done has been well received, no?'
I told him I thought the surging mass of amateur paps probably answered that better than I could. 'You are working for slave drivers, Karl,' I joked. But for a moment, above the music and the cheering fans and the surge of well wishing friends, I felt for the man. And I wondered how many captains of industry there are out there in their 8th decade, still bringing home the bacon for a booming multi national business, still putting in seven day weeks on all time zones: probably a very few, if any at all.
Godfrey Deeny and Alice Dellal
A Japanese journalist beside me commented, 'after the year we have had in this country, it would be easy for us to submit to defeat. Events that bring foreign companies here in celebration and support give us the boost that helps us to pick ourselves up and carry on. The visit of Karl and the Chanel team has been a great boost. We were joking that the only thing that could top it, is if the queen came, but we reckon her diary is a little full this year!'
I joked that I would put a word in, if ever I got a chance. In the meantime, most of the young movie celebrities had summoned cars and gone to bed. Karl was still posing with fans for pictures.
by Paula Reed in Tokyo