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Grand Palais, Paris, October 5th

What happened to the Grand Palais? Erased, vaporised, replaced by a stone dream, an extraordinary 18th century garden, which is also a cinematographic experience... Tuesday October 5th, 2800 unbelievably calm spectators, fascinated like children, are fixed in time. Something special is happening. There is elegance. There is poetry. Three fountains flow, the Lamoureux symphony orchestra and its 80 morning-coated musicians provide an offbeat magical note for the show. We are definitely with Chanel, in 2011, we are also on the set of Last Year at Marienbad, directed by Alain Resnais in 1960, and with Kubrick, during his 2001: A Space Odyssey period, all of which creates a mildly anachronistic sense of excitement. It’s a mythical age, where women are nonchalantly erotic, impish but elegant, ethereal and intense. Like this Spring-Summer 2011 Ready-to-Wear collection. The image of the Chanel woman is Delphine Seyrig in Marienbad (dressed for the film by Chanel), but also Freja Beha, Stella Tennant and Inès de la Fressange, worshipped with lengthy applause, a wonderfully stylish vision, in a long black evening dress, embroidery, transparent layers and satin ballet shoes.
The keyword for the collection is lightness. Lightweight fabrics, an abundance of voile in black or decorated with exquisite patterns, delicate meshes of fine tulle. A profusion of feathers, for both day and evening, feathers embroidered on tweed, on the bottom of short dresses and perfect feather ruffs, feather sleeves, feathers everywhere – take, for example, the pale orange ostrich feather dress - so simple, so sensual.
Creating desire means revealing, but concealing even more: pale grey or white jeans with holes, cleverly placed tears in a jacket, here and there, suggesting the skin below. A sequence creates a trance, the transparency of a voile dress which shows almost everything but almost nothing. Emotion. One of the collection’s emblematic pieces are mini-shorts, or rather tailored mini-shorts. We love it. It’s daring, it’s young, it’s irresistible. The model in braided tweed with metallic silver, a loose-fitting jacket and the purity of bright white stylishly redefines what, up until now, in the street, could not be described as overwhelming elegance... this playful micro-garment is no longer reserved for young girls, for Chanel it has become perfectly suitable.
In wooden wedges, embroidered boots or tantalising black leather thigh boots, in a midnight blue knit dress with a V-shaped hem, or a tweed dévorée dress, the Chanel woman knows that she is expected, she moves at her own pace. Like Karl Lagerfeld and this collection, she is a stranger to nostalgia. She appears to float towards what awaits her, a future whose only direction is freedom. And desire. Like Delphine Seyrig, the quiet muse behind this grandiose and intimate show.
"As if the floor was still coarse sand, flagstones on which I walked to meet you once again..."

Photos: Olivier Saillant


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