Lagerfeld strips away the detail

Chanel collection: Veteran designer omits trademark logo to foil the fashion fakers
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The Independent Online
There was not a trademark interlinked pair of Cs in sight at Chanel's haute couture show for Autumn/Winter '96 yesterday, as the fashion house aimed for simplicity - and beating the counterfeiters.

Last season, Karl Lagerfeld had pared down Chanel's show to the intimate setting of the Imperial Suite at the Ritz Hotel. This season, he pared down the clothes too so that at times they were barely recognisable as Chanel. And he managed to defeat the copycats by being so clean of logos there was nothing to rip off.

For day-wear, the closely fitting calf-length coats in soft violet, black, British racing green and quiet navy boucle, were worn over shiny Lycra footless tights, a dubious throwback to the 1980s. Some were fastened with a zip, without a gilt button in sight. And when there were buttons, the natural vehicle for the house's signature, interlinked Cs, were replaced by a plain circle with a tiny diamonte stone in the centre, or by a sprig of diamonte with a pearl. The only sign of that most famous of fashion logos was on subtle little wallets, where it was quietly stamped on the leather.

The couture house fights a constant battle against copycats: the logo turns up everywhere from T-shirts in Bangkok markets to handbags in New York's Chinatown.

Last month, Chanel placed a full page advert in the trade paper, Woman's Wear Daily, sternly warning fashion editors to be careful how they use the Chanel name. And at the ready-to-wear show last March, photographers were required to sign a statement declaring that they would not release any of their pictures onto the Internet. Few signed then, but this season they had no choice if they were to be allowed access to the catwalk show.

Yves Saint Laurent announced last week that it was taking the opposite tack and embracing the new information technology with open arms: their show today will be transmitted live on the Internet, a clever way of at least having some control over the images that are released.