The Chanel AW18 Show By Numbers
Going to a Chanel show is like stepping into a beautifully conceived, alternate universe. In the past, audiences have been treated to a space rocket lift-off, a polar scene complete with a real iceberg and a 25-metre-high waterfall. The idea for each lavish setting springs from the imagination of Karl Lagerfeld (he keeps a sketchbook next to his bed because his best ideas come to him in dreams) and is created in exacting detail by Chanel’s army of production staff. This season, Lagerfeld conjured an autumnal forest of real oak trees sprouting from a living forest floor. By far the biggest show in Paris, let’s crunch the Chanel numbers.
An avenue of nine 17-metre-tall oak trees were transplanted from a forest in the Perche region of north-western France to the vast, glass-ceilinged exhibition space at the Grand Palais. The trees formed a living corridor down the centre of the runway, which aped a natural forest floor, complete with autumnal leaves, soil, moss, twigs and tree roots. The audience sat on planks made from tree trunks. After the show all the trees were recycled – their trunks were sent to a sawmill to be cut into planks and their branches and leaves were turned into shavings and composted.
The runway was an epic 140 metres long and 33 metres wide. 12 smaller oak trees, reaching 10 metres high, lined the show space backed by a vast 20-metre-high woodland cyclorama which ringed the epic catwalk.
The name of Chanel’s new shopper tote, 31 refers to the address of Chanel’s flagship store on Rue Cambon. Large and rectangular with distinctive circular handles and a long shoulder strap, it came in several colours and finishes. Some were printed with autumnal leaves and worn with matching jackets. Models carried them folded over like a newspaper or gently cupped the bottom of the tote with a hand. Despite its size the 31 has day-to-night potential. Kaia Gerber even accessorised her black lace cocktail dress with the capacious new shopper.
That’s the number of people who filed into the vast woodland arena. Front row notables included Keira Knightley, Lily Allen, Yasmin Le Bon, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Lara Stone and Marc Jacobs, who notched up his third front row appearance of the week having already taken in Balenciaga and Comme des Garçons, before hotfooting it off to Miu Miu.
There were 80 models each wearing an individual look. The show opened with a series of long, lean maxi coats, some in speckled tweed, others sprouting feathers from the shoulders or hem. Quilting – usually reserved for Chanel’s handbags – was used on wide trousers and an oversized down padded version of the classic braid-trimmed Chanel jacket brought a whole new meaning to street chic. The only print was a recurring motif of autumnal leaves, splashed over chiffon high-necked mini dresses and shawl-collared jackets. The show closed with a parade of ultra feminine black cocktail and evening gowns trimmed with ribbons, lace and tulle.