Chanel Goes Faux



It’s chilly in Paris, and it was even colder inside the Grand Palais yesterday morning as we  waited in sub-zero temperatures for the lifting of a gigantic, pristine white box to discover Karl Lagerfeld’s latest surprise for Chanel. It came in the form of several 28-foot-high hand-sculpted glaciers; 265 tons of ice shipped in from Northern Sweden, placed on a shallow, blue lake stage. Fashionn breeds necessity. Girls in yeti boots and boys in yeti suits waded through the blue like some monsters from Where the Wild Things Are; even Karl was walking on water by the end of the show, but then almost everybody on the Chanel iceberg was wearing clear, plastic overshoes. And although the collection was all furry; every hairy bit of it was faux! Faux fur was basket woven into Chanel tweed suits and crunchy, patchwork knit tunic sweaters. Fluffy, white angora sweater dresses with a space-dyed baby blue center looked like figure skater pinups and the bag of choice is an ice cube stamped with the house’s double Cs. Nordic folkloric patterns edged jackets while faux fur fringe turned up everywhere.  And Lagerfeld captured a new, furcentric silhouette by bordering a skinny leather jean jacket, and other coats,  with a wide piece of bearish pelt for a pan-like woman.
Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are in a unique position since they worked for many years for Valentino Garavani before he retired in 2008. That’s so different than other next generation designers who typically arrive at a house after the founder is long gone. Since their first spring couture collection, presented in January 2009, the duo has pushed the envelope to appeal to a younger clientele, creating a bit of interesting tension between flashy youth and the remarkable Valentino lace, beading and flounces.  After experimenting with  airy fairy, flying silk  for spring’s  couture, they returned to Valentino’s roots for fall, opening with a three-tiered scallop-edged dress  that Jackie Kennedy would have loved. This collection was packed with flounces, but by the end of the show, Chiuri and Piccioli had their own kind of fun with patchwork lace which looked ethereal, very Valentino but also very young.