It took six months to make the 300 flowers that decorated the Chanel set today. Karl Lagerfeld claimed the show came to him in an electronic flash. “One morning in bed, I saw it in a second.” Which certainly beats most people’s dyspeptic awakenings. But that is Lagerfeld sees other worlds—and then he makes them. In the case of his new couture show it was a garden, magic garden.
What Lagerfeld is really doing each season is fine-tuning an attitude. The clothes and accessories exist to amplify that attitude: the flat sock-booties, the bared midriffs, the slouchy skirts ending just below the knee, the huge Edwardian hats or the puffy beanies…they were today’s ingredients in the ongoing saga of Chanel’s constant reinvention. Lagerfeld is a psychic sponge, absorbing the energy and inclinations of the women he draws to him. To elaborate on the notion of some future where all history—and even nature itself—has become a distant memory, Lagerfeld gave us flashes of the past as seen by the future: tweeds wantonly decaying into lavish fringing, ravishingly artificial floral trims, suits whose propriety was unhinged by proportion. You could imagine that this would stand for beauty in a world where people were wondering where all the flowers had gone. And not for nothing was it possible to track echoes of the collection Raf Simons showed for Dior yesterday. Both men are bent on the same course. It’ll be thanks to designers like them that couture will still prevail even when we’re all living under a dome in a galaxy far, far away. Lagerfeld nailed it backstage: “Keep the best, forget the rest.”