Hi fashion fans,
Okay, so I lied—-a little. I said that my last blog, on the Givenchy (pronounced Jee-von-shee) fashion show would be my last fashion statement on fashion week in Paris. Just one more? My report to you wouldn’t be complete without telling you about the Chanel show. It’s just too good to miss sharing with you. And since it was the last fashion show I saw during Ready to Wear fashion week in Paris, you’re safe (for men who hate these reports), I really won’t be writing about another one, but HAVE to tell you about this one. It is always the best organized, most breathtaking and most impressive show. And it is massive.
Whereas the other shows are seen by several hundred people, there must be a thousand people at the Chanel show—-maybe more, it’s hard to tell. It’s held in the Grand Palais, a gorgeous 18th or 19th (probably 19th) century glass structure that looks like a palace, and is fabulous in itself.
The fashion shows organized by Chanel are spectacular, and they are spectacles. Last year, at this time, they flew in an iceberg from Sweden, plopped it in the center of the vast expanse of the Grand Palais, and the entire show took place around it, as models waded through four or five inches of water (and the audience froze because the room had to be kept so cold so the iceberg wouldn’t melt.). As soon as the show was over, I am told that the iceberg was flown back to Sweden. Pretty cool, literally. And it occurred to me that the iceberg was going to be hard to top this year.
But, they did it!!! I was fascinated to discover what spectacular decor they would come up with this time. People invited to the show were filtered through security and metal detectors at the entrance, and we walked into the vast space of the Grand Palais, (which literally means ‘big palace’ in French), and we entered what looked like the end of the world, after Armageddon, or a landscape after a volcano had erupted. The floor (miles of it) was covered in fine black sand, strewn with black rocks of varying sizes, and a plain wooden runway made of wooden planks ran the entire length of the interior, and alongside it smoke was rising. It was a scene of total barrenness, rocks, sand, and smoke, with bleachers/benches set up along the sides, and the runway with smoke rising right down the middle. It was stark and strangely beautiful, not a flower, not a shrub, nothing…..just a thousand interesting looking and some very well dressed people. All the regulation fashion editors were there. The Vogue contingent was there in force, Anna Wintour, the most powerful editor in the fashion world (editor of Vogue Magazine) was seated in the center, wearing her customary dark glasses, flanked by Andre Leon Talley, and Grace Coddington (of the fabulous red hair). There was an instant mood of expectation. And finally, everyone was seated. The show began almost on time, unheard of during fashion week—–except at a Chanel show, which always runs like clockwork. Your name is at your seat, and you can actually find it, despite the vast number of people there. They manage to keep everything straight, AND start on time!!!
At either end of the vast space was a large white panel with the familiar double C of Chanel, and slowly the panel lowered like a drawbridge, and more smoke emerged from behind it, and through the smoke one after the other came the beautiful models in the gorgeous clothes. They walked from one end of the Grand Palais to the other, on the plain wooden runway, as the smoke rose around them from under the runway. It was very, very beautiful in a strikingly stark way. Models came from either end, and passed each other on the runway. The clothes were tweedy, loose, comfortable, stylish, there were lots of boots, and for once not very high heels. It was a great look and a very impressive show. What struck me too is how fashion follows real life, rather than the reverse. Years ago, Grunge became the style, imitating the rag tag look of young people in the streets, in torn clothes. Lately, young people wear their clothes in layers, short skirts over jeans and leggings, jackets over other jackets. I don’t think any of my fashionable daughters own a coat, they just wear several jackets and it seems to work—on them. Now fashion has noticed what they’re doing, and there were skirts over pants in the show, and several layers of jackets. The styles worn by the young have become fashion for us all.
It was beautiful and interesting and fascinating. The stark setting allowed one to concentrate on the clothes. And half an hour after it began, it was over, and we were filtering out of the building and down the steps of the Grand Palais. For me, it was the end of my fashion week in Paris….and it was great. I had a ball…..and now, you can look forward to blogs on other subjects!! But I think it was a great fashion week in Paris.