Stepping into a Chanel show is like entering a parallel universe. The real world is immediately forgotten inside the Coco dimension. This season we worm-holed to the perfect beach setting complete with a blue sky cyclorama that encircled the vast show space. A wooden boardwalk ringed the set and gentle waves (real!) lapped the golden beach (also real). Many guests ignored the advice to wear flat shoes in order to negotiate the sandy runway. The models had a better idea. They walked barefoot, splashing through the surf in boxy tweed skirt suits, carrying their sandals. In their smart, ladylike ensembles they look as if they’d escaped from a chi-chi quayside lunch for the freedom of the sea.
As the show progressed, the Chanel muses shed their layers, one used a long tweed blazer as a bikini cover-up, another turned her Chanel tweeds into a sarong dress. There were plenty of witty bag moments – a quilted 2.55 was worn as a necklace, models toted oversized towelling shoppers and bags shaped like beach balls. A high point? Two exits featuring classic black jackets worn with black scuba shorts (very much a thing at the shows). Students of Chanel might recall the last time scuba shorts were on the Chanel runway was in the 1991 City Surf collection. Another high point? The black tulle finale dresses, each one more delicate and feminine than the last. At the end, Karl Lagerfeld took his bow with his right-hand designer of twenty years standing, head of studio Virginie Viard (she wore double denim, he wore his customary skinny suit, high collared shirt and diamond pins). It’s the second time Virard has shared a catwalk bow with the great designer (she stepped out at couture). A sure sign of the high esteem in which he holds her.
Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.