Chanel Resort 2013: King Karl's seriously frivolous Versailles rhapsody
The Palais de Versailles played host to Chanel's suitably decadent 2013 Cruise collection.
France is poised to inaugurate its new Socialist president with all the pomp and ceremony the Republic can muster. So tonight in Versailles Karl Lagerfeld nipped in first, with a majestic, pomp-aplenty Chanel Cruise collection, as encrusted with courtly references as a Louis XIVth folly, yet determinedly 21st-century too.
The guillotine of austerity is hardly something that hangs over Chanel's clientele, yet there was plenty of cake-eater denim here, used as a raw material for gamine breeches or gathered gowns cascading with golden embellishment.
Yes, there was more than a touch of the Marie Antoinettes in the shinily, curlicued bouclé jackets and skirts, and the ruffled white lace tiers that ran petticoat like down the side of full skirts. The hemlines, though, were distinctly modern, those grand old to-the-ankle shapes severed remorselessly short just south of the buttock, and transformed into micro-culottes.
There was ultra modern swimwear, scoop-necked peasant sun dresses in horizontal panels of white cotton, a biker-tight black leather trouser/jacket ensemble and more culottes than you could shake a revolutionary fist at, in golden knit, and Chanel bouclé by the bucketload.
Accessories included wigs - but ultra short candy-coloured bobs, not powdered grandiose numbers - double C beauty spots applied to the cheek, spray-painted floppy sun-hats and white-soled brothel-creeper trainers. Three men joined the female models, one in a raffishly-revered jacket and breeches double denim outfit, another carrying a black-leather padded Chanel watering can.
The 200 or so invited guests, including Vanessa Paradis, Tilda Swinton, Sam Taylor Wood and Aaron Johnson watched as 70 models - including Georgia May Jagger making a rare 'catwalk' appearance - crunched around the gravel of the Bosquet des Trois Fontaines, an extremely beautiful, recently-restored ornamental garden within the grounds of Versailles.
Lagerfeld - wearing his trademark frock-coat and inscrutable behind his sunglasses - said the collection was about "serious frivolity."