Chanel

Published October 3, 2014

Rosie the Riveter-redux was the starting point for Karl Lagerfeld’s latest collection for Chanel. Modern-day activists championing feminism, equality, and free speech lined Chanel Boulevard, the spot-on recreation of a typical Parisian apartment-lined block built in the Grand Palais as the show’s backdrop. The ladies march in solidarilty and held signs that read: “Tweed We Need,” “Make Fashion, Not War,” “Ladies First,” “Be Your Own Stylist,” and “Votez pour Vous!”

Taking it to the streets is an age-old Parisian tradition. Considering recent marches for climate control, and racial and social equality in the states, and the political upheaval in Hong Kong, the spectacle—if not the shoes, bags, and clothes—seemed particularly timely.

“Of course Karl makes extraordinary clothes,” explained Academy Award-winning filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, “but he also has a great ability to capture what’s in the air and bring fashion and topical notions together.”

And notions he presented. The show celebrated various groups of women: Some activists wore rainbow tweed pantsuits and painterly watercolor printed skirts (a standout included a ribbon-woven tweed bolero worn by Malaika Firth); there were new sweater girls in micro-mini striped knits (including Gisele Bündchen, the newest face of Chanel No. 5.); and classic Chanel girls in accordion-pleated minidresses (Kendall Jenner and Grace Mahary). Billowing 19th-century fischu and bishop collars in white work embroidery covered lacquered pinstriped suits with wide legs and deep cuffs; and all looks were worn with the new spectator shoe in black-and-white or metallic gold leather, or signature flat, cap-toe boots in coordinating fabrications.

For her part, Chanel ambassador Elisa Sednaoui exclaimed, “I can’t wait to wear it all, but more importantly, I love that Karl is at once of his time and ahead of the curve” commenting on the designer’s use of fashion as a catalyst to spark conversation about such hot-button issues. “Let’s empower ourselves,” she continued. “I’m so lucky to be a part of a generation where women before us fought for equal rights, and now we have to do the same for women around the world.”

To borrow from Emma Watson’s recent UN speech on feminism and equality, Sedenaoui chimed in, “I love being a woman, and I love standing next to strong men who can allow themselves to be vulnerable.” For all the collection’s novelty, spectacle, comedy, and tragedy, and whatever criticisms might arise from the appropriation of such current events, Luhrmann continued, “Karl’s a grand opera director, always a great show!”

For more from Paris Fashion Week S/S 2015, click here.