It all started with a wisecrack made by Karl Lagerfeld in the Chanel Studio in July this year.

While we were talking about the October fashion show, a French-style garden setting in the Grand Palais and Last Year at Marienbad as inspiration for the collection, Karl was wondering what we should do for music. He was quick to come up with the idea of a philarmonic orchestra.

It was quite an idea since we had to get an orchestra of 80 musicians to play bang in the centre of the Grand Palais, a magical location by all standards whose accoustics are not its best feature.

Thomas Roussel, a young conductor with great ideas, was to be the man for the job; a man of talent who is always a pleasure to work with. During our discussions, we came up with the idea of making a soundtrack that was to be our version of Last Year at Marienbad, as the original score, composed by Francis Seyrig, would have been slightly nerve-racking to present the collection.

We therefore decided to do interpretations of rather well-known pop culture tracks, hinting at the audience without revealing too much from the first keys. We focused on two tracks by Bjork, ‘Isobel’ and ‘Bachelorette’, as they already are like mini-symphonies of their own with elaborate string arrangements that we mixed with a cult theme from John Barry and Thomas' exclusive composition ‘Jardin d'Eden’ before closing with the sweeping violin crescendos of  ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ a track made famous by The Verve when in fact they borrowed it from the Rolling Stones when it was called ‘The Last Time’.

For two months, we swapped sounds back and forth. Thomas wrote his score on his computer, a bit like a pattern maker making his toile, waiting for final approval prior to transcribe the score for each group of instruments.

In total there were to be eight rehearsals to practice the score and adapt it to the fashion show. The first rehearsal was the trickiest because it was held in an outside venue and the musicians from the Lamoureux orchestra discovered for the first time the melodies and arpeggios they will have to fine tune within the next 48 hours. The violins screeched somewhat and the tempo was slightly off. In the beginning it is always like that and Thomas had the situation under control while I was the only one concerned with the sound being offbeat.

The night before the show, the Grand Palais was amazing with the gardens looking like they had always belonged there. Upon Karl's arrival we gave the 'go' to the conductor and the models started walking the gravel alleys in their everyday clothes, their attitude enhanced by the surroundings and the soundtrack that now sounds perfect. It is the most priviledged moment in the process of the making of a show, when all the pieces from the different players come together making Karl's vision a reality. Everything feels fresh and fragile, making the ephemeral desirable forever.

On D-Day, the orchestra walks up to, looking impeccable in their custom made Chanel cardigans, both taken and reserved by the idea of playing more than their part in this unusual production. 5-4-3-2-1 Go!
Time stands still, we hold our breath, we have to do it and do it well, it is a live performance and there is no room for error.
The models dressed in silver tweeds and feathers much loved by Mademoiselle appear from each side of the grand staircase, becoming the protagonists of ‘Next Year at Marienbad’.

Two months of work, nineteen-minutes of show but our emotions will remain engraved in our memories forever.

Thomas Roussel composed ‘Jardin d’Eden’, exclusively for the web broadcast of the fashion show.




Chanel is to donate the exhibition pavilion designed by Iraqi-born British architect, Zaha Hadid, winner of the 2004 Pritzker Prize, to the Arab World Institute. The pavilion showcased artworks by contemporary artists inspired by Chanel’s iconic bag in 2008.

Chanel will thereby perpetuate this work designed by one of the greatest contemporary architects.

Hadid’s unique pavilion was widely appreciated during Mobile Art’s world tour and came to the attention of the Arab World Institute who contacted Chanel to express their interest in it.

Early 2011, the pavilion will be installed in front of the Arab World Institute, in the unique architectural environment of this prestigious cultural institution, which is open to all in the heart of Paris.

From then onwards, the Arab World Institute will use the pavilion to pursue a contemporary art exhibition policy in relation with the Arab countries.



Celebrities at the Spring-Summer 2011 Ready-to-Wear show
Grand Palais, Paris, October 5th

Photos: Delphine Achard



Window display at Le Bon Marché, Paris: Chanel plays with the codes of the iconic 2.55 handbag.

Exhibition "Le Bon Marché fait son Numéro" until October 16th

Le Bon Marché
24, rue de Sèvres
75007 Paris



9am: I arrive backstage at the Grand Palais for my very first Chanel show to find a wonderfully hectic scene of models in make up, dressers going through the show clothes, catering setting up a nice breakfast, the orchestra practicing in the background. Call time was 5.30am, so right now I’m just witnessing the finishing touches.

9.15am: There’s a final run-through. As Chanel is using the entire Grand Palais for the first time, there will be an epic 84 models, so the choreography needs to be perfect. Even without the clothes on, it already looks and sounds amazing! I am introduced to Karl Lagerfeld, who overlooks the entire scene himself.

9.30am: People have already started arriving at the door, even though the show doesn’t start for another hour. Inside there’s a quiet before the storm, so I go outside to start taking pictures of the crowd, but it starts raining and umbrellas are blocking my view. The Chanel crowd is incredibly stylish and often dressed in the label head-to-toe. It is a truly amazing sight! I run into blogger extraordinaire Bryanboy backstage, looking amazing!

10.15am: Things are really starting to kick off now. Outside the queues are getting long, backstage the models are having their makeup finished and relaxing for a few minutes before the craziness kicks off. People start entering the venue and everyone appears in awe of the grandness of the venue this season.

10.30am: The Grand Palais is filling up quickly and the celebrities keep arriving one by one. My seat is right next to where they get photographed, so I have a prime view. Alexa Chung, Lily Allen, Rachel Bilson, Vanessa Paradis, Keira Knightley, Lou Doillon, Virginie Ledoyen – to name a few. The stream of beautiful, Chanel-clad girls seems never-ending! The gorgeous Claudia Schiffer arrives in front of me causing a bit of a pap scrum.

11.05am: Showtime! The orchestra starts up and the models come from both sides of their stage. The huge collection moved through a variety of the classic Chanel tweeds in black & white and summery pastel colours to floaty chiffon floral dresses, finishing with an all-black eveningwear finale (except for a lone amazing feathered apricot creation). I fell in love with the chunky platform sandals, which seemed so comfy - no stiletto heel in sight! The entire crowd melted when supermodel Brad brought his adorable 2-year old son along with him on the catwalk, dressed in the exact same outfits. Original Chanel-muse Inès de la Fressange also received applause when she made her appearance in the finale with a huge grin on her face. Along the orchestra playing The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, Karl took his bow with his ‘court’ in tow, followed by the rest of the models. The whole scene gave me Goosebumps; this was a true Fashion Moment.

11.25am: Post-show cocktail, and there’s chaos as everyone wants to photograph or interview the many celebrities. People are climbing on top of the fountain to film; others are desperately trying to get backstage. There are cameras and microphones everywhere, and everyone is waiting for the man of the hour, Karl Lagerfeld, to come out. He eventually does, poses with some of his muses, like Keira Knightley, then talks to the assembled press.

1pm: The Grand Palais is slowly starting to empty. Karl Lagerfeld is still doing interviews, as he will be doing most of the afternoon, but my camera has now died and it is time for a much-needed break. Outside there’s still a crowd trying to get a whiff of the Chanel vibe, trendspotters are hoping to snap stylish people, tourists are posing with the Chanel sign. But the show is over, so armed with a camera full of amazing memories – and a goodie bag full of Chanel Make Up – I regretfully have to say goodbye to the Grand Palais and my first ever Chanel show.



Pictures of the dress created by Karl Lagerfeld for Léa Seydoux in Louis Garrel's movie "Le Petit Tailleur".

Movie distributed by MK2 Diffusion, now in theaters



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