Chanel celebrates the best of Paris with 'Brasserie Gabrielle' show
Posted: Mar 11, 2015
Karl Lagerfeld thinks there has been quite enough French bashing of late. "Even the French are now consistently complaining about themselves and their country, and as a foreigner here, I can point out the good things here, without sounding like a zealous patriot," he said, as he stood behind the bar of Brasserie Gabrielle, dispensing fresh (ish) orange juice after the show.
While a monstrous regiment of photographers juddered towards him, enthusiastically bashing any journalists who had the temerity to get in their way, Lagerfeld radiated a bonhomie not often seen behind Parisian bars.
But then it wasn't a real bar. Brasserie Gabrielle isn't real either, but the latest in a growing list of extraordinarily elaborate sets constructed each season inside the Grand Palais (a space roughly the size of Heathrow Terminal 5) for Chanel's ready-to-wear shows.
PICTURES: See more looks from the Chanel show
It is true that Paris has been down in the dumps recently, for obvious reasons. This show, as light as the froth on a cappuccino (admittedly an Italian invention, but their caffes aren't as nice), reminded one of the lovely things about Paris:
1. Its brasseries allow for unparalleled people watching. Café society is not enjoying its finest moment right now in Paris. It's not just the weather. Since the terrible events in January a leaden atmosphere hangs over the city like. smog, but in Brasserie Gabrielle, there is masses of room between the tables to allow the chic-est women in the world to strut their style. Of course it helps if they're all dressed in Chanel and look like models. Luckily they were.
Photo: lilac bridesmaid dresses
2. It's the home of Chanel, and at its best, Chanel makes clothes almost every woman would want to wear. This was a very fine show indeed, with a vast wardrobe (some 80 outfits) of looks, many of them the kind of separates that you could more or less imagine wearing in real life.
Boyfriend cardigans, knitted tanks, slim tweed skirt, ankle-flare jeans, buttery suede shirt-dresses and feathery woven coats. This being Chanel, these were often jewelled, threaded with Lurex, dotted with sparkle or embroidered with rosettes and camellias.
"No one wears evening coats anymore. So you have to do a jewelled parka instead," explained Largerfeld. "One must do the kind of clothes that make sense to a woman in the real world." Hence his long mosaic apron skirts (matching the floor of Brasserie Gabrielle), layered over silk or wool underskirts - "a new way to wear a tight skirt, so that you can actually sit down".
- It turned the bourgeois into a delicious fetish. And nothing looked more delicious than the black and beige block heeled sling-backs in the show. "I'm glad you noticed them," beamed Largerfeld. "I've been at Chanel 33 years, and I've never touched that shoe before. I thought it was the frumpiest, most dated thing. But the eye changes and you start to tweak a style. This shoe made every outfit look chic and street-worthy, and all the stilettos and platforms look so old."
- The Parisian waitress is a universal object of lust. And now that Chanel has co-opted her uniform - strict black dresses with prim white collars - so can we be. Zara, do your best.
- Parisian waiters are thrillingly terrifying. Which is why, the smiling "waiters" at Brasserie Gabrielle were extra delightful. And the ruffled waiters' shirts and bibs in the collection were pretty nifty too.
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