If there is one item of clothing that every self-respecting haute couture customer should have in her hugely expensive wardrobe it must surely be the Chanel daysuit.
This is a look that had its heyday in the 1960s when the world's most famous label was still designed by its namesake. Now, under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld, it continues to make an appearance each and every season. The Chanel suit is perhaps the last bastion of bourgeois French fashion.
This time, the garment came mainly in black. Mr Lagerfeld, who unveiled his collection for the autumn/winter season in a sun-drenched courtyard in Paris, was inclined to celebrate the womanly form. The appearance of Kylie Minogue in the front row wearing a girlish Sixties-inspired ready-to-wear version was deceptive. The far grander, haute couture big sister was knee-length and noticeably voluptuous. It looked fabulous. Soft-shouldered jackets were cut close at the waist. Skirts fell to just above the knee and were pencil thin, A-line or straight and with a kick at the hem. All varieties were tight across the hips.
From there on in, clothes became more obviously elaborate - very elaborate in places. Given that these were clothes to protect the world's richest women against the cold, it came as no surprise that fur was everywhere. Not just any old fur, however. How about a floor-length knitted fur cardigan with ermine collar and cuffs? Or, would madame prefer her animal skins to resemble the most delicate of snowdrifts?
If the silhouette was, for the most part, French classic with a twist, black and white leather stiletto pants were rather more outré - and, it has to be said, vaguely alarming.
Elsewhere, the Chanel look was the height of refinement, if always with a suggestion of smouldering sexuality. That these were not clothes aimed at androgynous nymphettes was amply demonstrated by Lagerfeld's choice of model for the bridal outfit that traditionally closes the haute couture presentation.
Suffice to say that Linda Evangelista appeared as lovely as ever in an overblown, white meringue of a gown.
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