Karl Lagerfeld transformed the interior of Paris's Grand Palais into a private jet for the spring/summer 2012 Chanel haute couture show yesterday. Perhaps he felt it would make the handful of clients wealthy enough to invest tens of thousands of pounds in a single, hand-worked garment feel at home. Certainly, Chanel besuited guests appeared delighted as they walked through the metal walkway and circular lounge to their airline seats. Drinks were served from silver trolleys, all beneath a blue sky projection scattered with clouds.
As befitted the retro-futurism of the setting, the first looks out were inspired by optimistic Space Age fashions. A youthful silhouette that stood away from the body and a hemline that fell to mid-thigh whispered of the work of André Courrèges, while balloon sleeves and tulip skirts also referenced 20th-century haute couture, although with a modern touch.
Among the last of the great, traditionally trained couturiers still working in contemporary fashion – the other is Jean Paul Gaultier, who shows later today – Lagerfeld knows how to employ the skills of the petites mains who staff the Paris ateliers responsible for haute couture's execution like no other. The Chanel suit came this time around in all the beautiful shades of blue – powder, petrol and, of course, chic French navy – shot through with a touch of sparkle or trimmed with iridescent jewelled brocades and degrading into a mere wisp of chiffon.
Cocktail dresses were finished with tiny silver-coated feathers or silk petals that fluttered prettily when models walked. Opalescent camellias – famously Coco Chanel's favourite flower and now a symbol of the house she founded – decorated necklines. Should madam prefer a more demure skirt length, that was there too.
At the end of the show, Lagerfeld emerged, as if by magic, from the pilot's cockpit to take his bows safe in the knowledge that there was much to please the Chanel haute couture customer on display this season and indeed to tempt a new client into the fold.
High style: It's taking off
Is Chanel channelling pop culture? From adverts to TV series, the nostalgia trip of the boom days of travel, has been flying high for a while.
Pan Am: Star of the show in the American cabin crew drama, costume designer Ane Crabtree, who created an authentic Sixties look from longline bras and girdles to pillbox hats.
Virgin Atlantic: The brash glamour – and sexism – of the Eighties was alive and well in the airline's 25-year anniversary advertising campaign.
British Airways: BA's new campaign takes the viewer through the history of aircraft – and the gentlemen who fly them.
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- Jean Paul Gaultier