‘If I ever see another fashion show again, I’ll be perfectly happy.’ ‘I have never seen so many smiling faces in a fashion crowd.’ And, ‘do you think hair and makeup is happening underneath that hay bale?’ These were just some of the things I overheard on the front row at Chanel this morning which was one of those seminal moments that I think I’ll always remember as a career highlight.
Ok, we see some fantastical things from the front row. I’ve seen Sharon Stone in a wedding dress; Kate Moss as a hologram; Madonna bare breasted and pushing a pram. I’ve been to a mind boggling fashion show on the Great Wall of China and to a breathtaking one in a South London bus depot. I’ve been choked with laughter and with admiration. But this Chanel will go down in my personal history as one of the barnstorming best (and that’s not just because the set was modelled on Marie Antoinette’s play farm at Versailles).
At the most memorable shows it could be the set you remember. Or it’s the collection. Or it’s a celebrity appearance. But rarely do all elements come together so faultlessly. Usually something doesn’t live up to the rest and is eclipsed. (Loved The Kills, can’t remember the clothes…..that kind of thing). But this one is scorched on my brain and will be for a long time.
The set had been under construction for months off site and was brought in to the Grand Palais over the weekend. The models came and went through an enormous bail of hay and walked a runway strewn with straw and finished with a massive maypole.
The clothes were beyond fabulous. If you have ever wanted a Chanel jacket girls start saving for next summer because there must be literally dozens of fantastic ones to choose from (I am going to the atelier to count them tomorrow….I’ll keep you posted). Elbow-length sleeves and slim bodies made them work as effortlessly as evening jackets over A line skirts, or over wide legged cotton trousers for day. For that kind of money you need them to do double duty and Karl didn’t disappoint.
The delicate pinks and beiges of his cosmetic colour palette (by now, a major international trend) were perfectly judged. A candy pink blouse was offset by the down-to-earth putty beige of a wide ¾ trouser and looked perfectly plausible for real life and way less Sugar Plum Fairy than other runways.
There were at least a dozen fantastic black dresses; my favourite had a cream boucle fit-and-flare frock coat falling just short of the dress’s hem. And as for the lingerie charmeuse evening dresses: one-shouldered, cream and black. Way to go Karl: you show them how it should be done.
As if that wasn’t enough, as we began the think the show must be drawing to a close, up pops Lily Allen and her band on a hydraulic lift from under another pile of hay and practically brings the house down with a hoe down rendition of her new track It's Not Fair. I saw fashion editors actually jigging in their seats!!!
She looked like a normal sized girl in the party dress of a lifetime (made to measure by Karl) having the time of her life. It was fan-bloody-tastic. And front row, there was Prince, Rihanna, Natalia Vodionova with her daughter on her knee, and Claudia Schiffer stamping their feet and clapping!
Indulge me while I gush, but I truly wish you could have been there. What a morning it was. I left thinking I am indecently fortunate to have my job...
- Paula Reed in Paris
Get the magazine next week to read Grazia’s exclusive backstage chat with Lily.