Hotel du Chanel

Friday, May 27, 2011 | |


CANNES, France — “This is incredible. I feel like I’m on vacation,” model Frankie Rayder exclaimed as she arrived for a fitting at Karl Lagerfeld’s temporary Chanel studio — a vast, plush room at mythic Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc with the same panoramic view of the glistening Côte d’Azur that enchanted the likes of Pablo Picasso a few generations earlier.

And that’s precisely what Lagerfeld was after with his latest collection for Chanel.

“Cruise is always about going away,” reasoned Lagerfeld, returning for the second year running to the South of France.

 But unlike the carefree, Bohemian spirit of his Saint-Tropez outing in May 2010, this collection worked the more elitist, sophisticated side of this summer playground of the rich.

To underline the point, Lagerfeld accessorized the collection with 90 pieces of Chanel Haute Joaillerie — even swimsuits were complemented with a few million dollars’ worth of gems, as models made the four-minute circuit from the majestic hilltop palace, a cash-only institution from 1870 until 2006, toward the cliffside villa with its famous infinity pool.

“This is a modern version of sophisticated dressing — to go with those boats,” Lagerfeld said, gesturing to the yachts sprinkled across the cape.

As for the jewels, he noted: “In this part of paradise, it’s the real stones.”

Some 200 people, not counting 50-odd top models, descended on Antibes, on the eve of the 64th Cannes Film Festival, to realize Lagerfeld’s latest fashion vision, his new slim-lined silhouette hinged on midheel open-toe pumps he dubbed “tango thongs.”

A black-and-white palette — or sunny colors worn head to toe — gave the day clothes a crisp yet breezy allure: cap-sleeve polos, pleated walking shorts and flowing dusters. A men’s shirt in bold stripes was married to a chiffon blouse, a wink to the boy-meets-girl theme of Chanel’s fall collection.

But it was only a backward glance. “I only like change,” insisted Lagerfeld, who moved on to a glamorous, full-throttle femininity, embellishing vaguely Thirties pleated dresses with dense floral embroideries or gleaming crystals.

The grandeur and scale of the setting, with guests seated on robin’s-egg-blue deck chairs under white umbrellas, certainly wowed the VIP guests.

“My gosh, I think I’m going to move here,” said Blake Lively, leaping up to snap a photo with her cell phone.

“It’s pretty amazing,” echoed Clémence Poésy. “I used to come to [the French Riviera] as a kid. But not to this hotel. We went somewhere much more modest.” The French actress said she would stay on in Cannes for the film festival, where her new Joan of Arc film “The Silence of Joan” will premiere.

California girl Rachel Bilson said she finds the fashion stakes high in this part of the world. “Everyone looks so chic all the time,” she marveled. And her favorite thing about the south of France? “I love the butter. It’s delicious,” said the pint-size actress, who recently shot a series of Magnum ice cream commercials with Lagerfeld.

A suite of pencil-skirted day suits, in lemon yellow, lavender or fresh cream, opened the show and set a tone of grown-up chic. But Lagerfeld showed a rich variety of silhouettes, from side-slit palazzo pants to leg-baring shifts. The show climaxed with languid satin or chiffon gowns edged in pearls.

The transporting show was the centerpiece of a 24-hour charm offensive, bookended by an open-air dinner at a family-style Italian restaurant Sunday night and a surprise concert by Bryan Ferry on Monday after the show. Side attractions included a sumptuous picnic lunch in the fragrant flower fields in nearby Grasse, where 40 tons of Rose de Mai are harvested each year for Chanel No.5 perfumes, plus a 30-minute film titled “The Tale of a Fairy.” In it, Kristen McMenamy and Lady Amanda Harlech portray bickering sisters sharing a grand house populated by preening boy toys and an amorous, wish-granting intruder.

Lagerfeld said his film — depicting black-tie parties, beach strolls with parasols and six-figure bets at Monte Carlo casinos — echoes the dressed-up mood of his collection and telegraphs a “certain kind of life” enjoyed by the idle rich.

All this fanfare is not without a commercial impact. Cruise now represents Chanel’s biggest and most important delivery of the year, with deep assortments in all categories, said Bruno Pavlovsky, the company’s president of fashion.

He noted the season is growing by double-digits, and that the Saint-Tropez line virtually sold out by early January. Delivered in November, cruise offers a long selling window, emboldening buyers and giving shops a burst of novelty after winter, bringing “a strong impulse to the new [selling] cycle.…I’m very optimistic for cruise and metiers d’art,” Pavlovsky said, referring to the pre-fall collection embellished by the couture ateliers Chanel owns.

The Paris-Byzance collection got its global retail debut this week at a temporary store Chanel just opened on the famous Boulevard de la Croisette, right beside its permanent boutique, which will double in size by next summer. Chanel is also adding new boutiques this year in Istanbul, Moscow, Paris and two cities in fast-growing China.


Ruby Girl said...

yesss! i just saw this line for the first time a few minutes ago and woah, fell in love. it's so great! so many beautiful looks. thanks for sharing! <3

Oh my Dior! said...

I love all the collection is awesome!

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