Lagerfeld lapses into kitsch self-parodies

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IN THE Seventies, Karl Lagerfeld turned the house of Chloe into one of the most influential names in fashion. In the Nineties, he is trying to do it all over again.

But the question everyone is asking at the autumn ready-to- wear collections in Paris is: has 'Kaiser' Karl lost his marbles? This season's collection, his second since he returned to the house, makes other Seventies-inspired collections look reticent. The designer loves parody, but now he is parodying himself.

Mr Lagerfeld showed the silliest hair-dos and make-up in town. The clothes were no better: jackets sprouted jumbo lapels, coats fluted collars and cuffs; dresses were overburdened with trimmings and tiers of lace or velvet, and the new high-waisted proportions veered dangerously close to maternity wear.

This was shown to thumping rock music and modelled by a line-up of supermodels. It was a rare treat for fashion stylists, but where were the modern clothes?

There were some hits. High- waisted, soft long jackets with deep patch pockets - 'cardigan coats' with matching wool and rayon trousers and grid-printed chiffon shirts. Pretty, long double dresses in wool crepe with velvet on collars sum up the new silhouette: A-line, widening downwards from narrow shoulders.

Mr Lagerfeld believes nothing in fashion is sacrosanct. That is all to the good: fashion needs irreverence. This season, however, he appears to have misfired. The overwhelming impression of this Chloe show was of a designer playing with his audience, sewing kitsch fantasies with invisible thread.

Mr Lagerfeld has long been considered the designer with the golden touch. He designs for Chanel and produces his own signature line. Perhaps now someone needs to tell him that he has taken on one collection too many.