Maybe Chanel Just Did What Fashion Does Best

Two shows in Paris this season have already explicitly touted themselves as dedicated to joy. First, there was Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent; he described his models as women who just want to enjoy life. Then there was Céline’s Phoebe Philo, who exclaimed, “if there is anything to say…let it be joyful.” Simon Porte Jacquemus didn’t necessarily shout “happiness,” but his collection, an emotional dedication to his mother, espoused it all the same. Ditto that for Sonia Rykiel and Alessandra Rich and Isabel Marant and Valentino.

This morning, Karl Lagerfeld staged a larger-than-life, mountainous waterfall inside Paris’ Grand Palais to celebrate his Spring 2018 collection on the last day of the September/October ready-to-wear season with plastic top hats and boots (I, for one, will really look forward to getting caught in rain while wearing plastic boots with a satin toe cap), ponchos and handbags, and all of the tweed that would fit beneath it.

Each model wore bright blue eye shadow and a bold red lip. Layer upon layer of fringe hung from the seams of tweed skirts and shorts and jackets and bags. And regarding those bags, most models held more than one. I caught at least two fanny packs worn over shoulders, decorated with silk florettes. Some bags were creatively strapped onto wrists and upper arms; others were simply tucked into bigger bags. The clothes hit all the points. Varying assemblies of Japanese pastels alluded to the possibility of a faraway destination on tap for the brand’s annual Métiers d’Art show in December; a group of denim looks and the incredibly short skirts and dresses (mod, for sure) satisfied the young talent freckling the front row. Tweed jackets and skirts and those closing white dresses would appeal to the house’s most loyal clients.

Through it all ran that similar spark of joy, which is a distant, challenging state to embrace given the state of our world — politically tumultuous, morally bankrupt, socially divided — today. It’s the same glaring disparity of fantasy versus reality Vanessa Friedman spoke to during New York Fashion Week in The New York Times: “current events have a way of overshadowing clothes.” Maybe the point here was to create an experience of joy at a time when it’s so lacking. If so, for me, this show succeeded. Maybe this is precisely what fashion — observing it, admiring it, not necessarily wearing it — is supposed to do when current events overshadow all, not just clothes: give you a place to find joy when seemingly, it is nowhere else.

Feature image by Dominique Charriau/WireImage via Getty Images, runway images via

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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