A model presents a creation by German designer Karl
Lagerfeld for French fashion house Chanel. REUTERS/Charles
Fashion changes as quickly as the wind, and maybe that's
what Karl Lagerfeld had in mind at Chanel, where enormous wind
turbines greeted guests at his spring/summer 2013 show in
But with the floors of the expansive Grand Palais made to
resemble solar panels, one might have thought the prolific
German designer was instead making a statement on going
"I started to sketch in St. Tropez over the summer and it was
so hot I wanted some fresh air," Lagerfeld explained after
Whatever the reasoning, Lagerfeld presented a wide-ranging
readywear collection that occasionally incorporated synthetic
fabric, but one in which classic Chanel looks using nubby
wool, tweed and pearls were reworked for warm weather - all
without one camellia in sight.
Jennifer Lopez, wearing a cream lace thigh-baring dress, was
surrounded by a phalanx of cameras in the front row, where
rapper Kanye West and model-come-actress Laeticia Casta also
"It's so chic, it's so French, it's like a monument today,"
Casta said of Chanel, which has managed to keep its fashion
clout and mighty branding power under the watchful eye of
Lagerfeld more than 40 years after the death of founder Coco
The first look down the runway was, unsurprisingly, a little
black suit, but its kicky leather skirt imparted an edgy
flair and Chanel's beloved pearls, surrounded by rhinestones,
dotted the boxy jacket in a whimsical polka dot pattern.
A semi-sheer synthetic ribbed fabric was worked into slim
black trousers paired with short-sleeved bolero jackets with
pearl buttons, or used for body-hugging minidresses worn with
cropped knit jackets.
Lagerfeld worked the solar panel pattern into various tweeds
and into a bold graphic in red and blue that popped on
sweaters and jackets. Stunning in its simplicity was a column
dress cut mid-thigh with a severe straight neckline that
shimmered from tiny beads in twilight blue, silver and black.
But, always curious, the designer played with the concept of
air and wind, presenting floaty black dresses in sheer silk
chiffon structured by a quilted panel bodice and adorned with
tufts of multi-coloured fabric that fluttered like feathers.
More classically Chanel was a slim black evening gown with
exaggerated Peter Pan collar and white cuffs. Its puritan
simplicity fell by the wayside when the model moved, exposing
a leg-baring split up the front and a shimmery fabric that
lent elegance and sparkle.
Lagerfeld may have been day-dreaming in St. Tropez of a
pleasant, cool garden when he sketched the closing dresses in
the collection, columns of white in a cotton and linen
netting fabric elaborately embroidered with peonies and ivy
Accessories were big and bold, whether the sunhats with broad
brims that resembled wheels, the chunky lace-up heels, or the
faux-pearl chokers whose beads resembled Christmas ornaments.
After the show, Lagerfeld, wearing a candy-cane stripe cravat
and signature fingerless gloves, was asked what his secret
"There is none," he replied, looking perplexed. "Work."
While Lagerfeld was busy musing on the wind, Alexander
McQueen designer Sarah Burton must have been thinking about
those hard workers who fly in it - namely bees.
In her show late Tuesday on the eve of the close of Fashion
Week, Burton presented an extravagant collection constructed
from hive-like fabrics. The ornate, immaculately tailored
garments, mostly jackets with pants or hotpants, all came
cinched at the waist, and all imparted Queen Bee status on
In the amber and gold hues of a beehive, a bustier whose
pattern resembled an armadillo hide was paired with black
cropped pants, their hive pattern revealing skin underneath
in a dazzling juxtaposition of armour and exposure.
The reptilian fabric on another dress, a dramatic tight
column of black with a vampish flounce below the knee, was so
tactile, it begged to be touched.
Burton - who received international acclaim after designing
Kate Middleton's wedding gown - also showed a dozen or so
hoop-skirt looks that managed to remain both elegant and
avant-garde at the same time.
Part Can-Can, part Madonna in the 1980s, the dresses in
cream, pale yellow, gold and black were corseted, a favourite
motif of Burton, and the exposed tiered hoop skirt recalled
the segmentation on the abdomen of a bee.
And lest we forget that bees can sting, Burton obscured her
models' faces with inky black hats that evoked apiarists'
Beekeepers never looked so good.