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By
AFP
Published
Mar 6, 2012
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Chanel conjures up crystal cave in Paris

By
AFP
Published
Mar 6, 2012

PARIS - Chanel's superstar designer Karl Lagerfeld turned Paris' ornate Grand Palais into a crystal vault on Tuesday, sending out a look packed with trompe l'oeil tricks and glinting shades of violet and blue.


Photo : AFP

Giant spears of mock-crystal filled the vast domed space, as the models filed past with crystal outlining their eyebrows, and clustered on the clear heels of shoes which crunched on a floor of glittering mineral dust.

US singers Alicia Keys and Katy Perry -- whose bright blue hair has lit up the front row throughout this week's ready-to-wear shows -- were among the stars who came to cheer the house's latest autumn-winter collection.

Trompe l'oeil coats in dark, sparkling faux tweed opened the show, with flared skirt and jacket all of one piece, paired with pencil-thin cropped trousers.

"It's the new three-piece suit -- little skirt, little jacket and pants," quipped the white-haired designer, who had swapped his trademark black and white look for a violet shirt and velvet coat for the occasion.

Picking up on the sky-blue theme of Chanel's couture show in January, blues were a keynote of the collection.

"But this time it's the blue of amethyst, of crystal -- it's more autumnal," Lagerfeld explained backstage.

Crunchy crystal-like embroidery adorned the sleeves, hem or neck of dresses made from a mix of natural and synthetic materials whose recipe Chanel guards preciously secret.

Chanel's crystal leitmotif also translated into lots of transparency, like a long swishing multicoloured sleeveless dress, worn with leggings and a tiny blue rucksack with trademark Chanel chain straps.

A series of grey-black woollen-looking coats and dresses mined a more mineral theme, with gently flared skirts cut on the knee and tiny cupped shoulders.

And for evening there were feather-embroidered necklines, or a papier-mache like dress in dark autumn-leaf shades, with structured bodice and looser skirt and a voluminous ruff at the neck.

Lagerfeld cited Czech cubism from the 1920s and 1930s as an influence for a series of wool coats and dresses with metallic breastplates or arm bands in diamond-shaped, coloured patterns.

But he said his ready-to-wear line was also about "what people need in this day and age," pointing out long coats that split high on the leg: "It's for riding your bicycle!"

Chanel was headlining the penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week, a marathon style-setting event that draws buyers, models and media from all over the world for nine hectic days, after stints in New York, London and Milan.

Backstage after the show, the stars picked out their favourite looks: "There was a beautiful embroidered jumpsuit -- and the maxi coats," Keys told AFP.

"The shoes were my favorite -- crunchy with the crystal," quipped Perry.

Whispering in Lagerfeld's ear as they embraced after the show, the singer told him "it was very sensual." The style guru returned the compliment on her new shade of hair -- perfectly matched to his collection: "I love it!"

by Emma Charlton

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