Chanel towers over Paris rivals

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The Independent Online

For its financial might alone, Chanel is a fashion house that seems to tower over others in Paris. Hence the spectacular finale to the brand's haute couture show yesterday, where a white, 15-metre-high column slid upwards to reveal beneath it five tiers of models standing on a spiral staircase.

While hands continue to be wrung over the future of haute couture - the spring/summer event features only a half-dozen fashion houses still able to produce producing entirely handmade, highly ornamented clothing for a few hundred of the world's wealthiest women - for Chanel it is business as usual.

Thanks to the late Coco Chanel, the chief designer, Karl Lagerfeld, has a rich seam of house signatures to plunder: the little black dress, the tweed suit, the camellia and the double-C logo.

There was a Sixties feel to Lagerfeld's curvy black dresses, which were worn with flat, white go-go boots, and an even more youthful interpretation of the ultimate bourgeois uniform, the Chanel suit, which for spring is in high-maintenance white or powder pink.

If the brand's monied, mink-clad clients don't wish to flash as much thigh as Lagerfeld's models did, meanwhile, they could cover up with made-to-measure silver-grey beaded leggings. Perhaps considering a chaste new image, Victoria Beckham sat in the front row at this show.