Friday, May 19, 2006

The Last Resort


Entrance to the Chanel Cruise show at Grand Central Station

What did Anna Wintour (wearing a white skirt suit, black top, black opaque tights), Cecilia Dean (in a t shirt emblazoned with Karl Lagerfeld’s self portrait underneath an ivory blazer), Maria Bello (opting for a sleeveless white shirt, black skirt, pink satin sash and black beret), Naomi Watts (seen in an elongated black cardigan, narrow black Bermudas, white cotton shirt), Mischa Barton (in a sheer white long sleeved top and white cotton skirt), and Julianne Moore (wearing a shrunken black boucle jacket, black narrow pants, black flat ballet slippers) have in common last Wednesday morning? (Click here to see what the editors were wearing) via Patrickmcmullen.com.

Other than all having been invited to the Chanel Cruise show held on a roped off and heavily guarded balcony at Grand Central Terminal, each of them in their own way (and each dressed completely differently), still managed to evoke the spirit of Chanel (and illustrate the different sides of the iconic house) in their choice of dress: channeling Coco or Karl…or a little of both. There were some, not so famous, who wore chic tan coats (thrown over black stovepipe satin pants, skinny jeans, soft chiffon dresses), others who decided upon their trusty tweed jackets - either worn with traditional underpinnings or cropped pants and elongated shorts, and still others who selected all white or all black.

One of the more fun and interesting aspects of attending a Chanel show - other than seeing the highly covetable, perfectly proportioned and brilliantly accessorized clothes, is observing the audience and seeing the way the fashion faithful dress to pay homage to this legendary label.

There is absolutely no other fashion house that can lay claim to so many immediately identifiable symbols and there is no other fashion show whereby simply observing the audience, you can instantly tell what collection you are seeing. In fact, one need not even wear Chanel in order to seemingly invoke the image (any combination of black and white, a quilted chain bag, cap toe pumps, pearls, a camellia, can easily do the trick).

But way beyond the black and white (black and beige, or black and pink for that matter), the little black dress, the camellia, the quilting, the gold or silver chains, the tweeds, the boxy cardigan jackets, the cap toe pump, and the soft chiffons, there is a mood, a modern spirit, an irreverence, a sporty playfulness, AND a naughty sense of humor that was at the very heart of Coco herself (as seen in her designs), which also describes Karl Lagerfeld, who is ably carrying the label into the 21st century. And he is often doing it with a wink and a nod.

Speaking about that sense of humor, many of Karl’s ideas admittedly begin in wicked fun, as a joke (such as using Grand Central Station as a venue for his cruise collection). As reported in WWD, he initially thought of the idea since it symbolized traveling, coming and going (trains, boats, planes), which is what cruise and resort have traditionally been all about. What more symbolic and busy place than the historic and grand building right smack dab in the middle of Manhattan? But a smart and able associate proved she could actually make it happen and it did. So, as usual, with many of Karl’s other ‘jokes’, he’s having the last laugh. And laughing all the way to the bank, I may add.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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