Down on the farm with Karl and Lily

Susannah Frankel witnesses a rural-themed Paris show by Chanel supremo Karl Lagerfeld
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Whoever said fashion was po-faced? Karl Lagerfeld treated the establishment to a surprise performance by Lily Allen, complete with dancing models as backing singers, at his show for Chanel in Paris yesterday.

This was the biggest, most elaborate show of the season to date. More models, more clothes and more high-camp shenanigans would be difficult to imagine. Guests filing into the Grand Palais were greeted by hop sacks, garlands of flowers and a giant haystack. A huge Chanel-branded barn sat centre-stage. Cock-a-doodle-doo squawked the soundtrack, and then the bucolic festivities began.

Allen, in gold-sequinned Chanel skirt and splashy vest, rose from beneath the stage on a battered wooden platform surrounded by her "band". Models marched around her in the iconic Chanel suit. The jacket this time was classically boxy, the skirt very short, split up the sides or – in line with what will doubtless go down as a skirt-free and very leggy spring/summer season – just done away with altogether. Colours were sandy (wheaty?) and prettiest when infused with soft pink. Edges were trimmed with more wheat and tiny fondant-coloured flowers.

Lagerfeld is rather too experienced a designer to let any elaborate mise-en-scène detract from the clothes themselves and so the Chanel staples were all present and correct. The little black dress received a girlish makeover with a fitted bodice and mini, bell-shaped skirt. White is also a Chanel signature and the very youthful and slender will no doubt delight in crumpled taffeta designs embellished with camellias – the house's late namesake's favourite flower – at the waist.

The quilted 2.55 bag with its gilt chain was crafted in apparently natural fabrics and finished with more camellias. Brighter blooms – summery blues and reds – were appliqued on white crochet knit designs, introducing a Tyrolean feel to the whole. The new Chanel shoe meanwhile is a very high, wooden-heeled clog. Respecting Chanel's French heritage, this was a Marie Antoinette moment and, in particular, that legendary figure's early days frolicking in an Elysian world of her making in the gardens of Versailles. Chiffon cocktail dresses in muted neutrals referenced the Queen's love affair with a pastoral white muslin wardrobe. There was even a courtly roll in the hay at the finale – a Chanel ménage à trois. The bride and her groom were joined by a third model dressed in proudly androgynous attire, as Mr Lagerfeld, stepping out to take his bows, looked on. What recession? Let them eat cake.