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Veteran designer Karl Lagerfeld defied predictions that Paris haute couture will soon die out with a display Tuesday of feather-light gowns for Chanel, destined to lure a new generation of clients.
To a live set by singer Cat Power, models paraded under the soaring steel and glass roof of the Grand Palais before guests including actress Sigourney Weaver, director Sofia Coppola and French first lady Bernadette Chirac.
Slim sequined gowns in metallic pink, burnished gold and grey shimmered under grey Paris skies, while cloudlike skirts of see-through tulle wafted across a giant carpet emblazoned with the house’s double-C logo.
The number of houses that produce made-to-measure haute couture has dwindled dramatically in recent years. But Chanel has proved its commitment to preserving French know-how by buying up the embroiderers, featherers and shoemakers who supply it.
Lagerfeld, 68, made clear, however, that it was not his mission to rescue the sector.
“My future is Chanel, the future of the other couture houses I don’t really know,” the German designer said after the fashion show. “I only care what I’m doing. I’m not there to save the corporations. It’s up to them to make an effort to save it.”
Fans of the legendary house were given a peek behind the scenes of a recent documentary that shows seamstresses toiling for weeks to make Lagerfeld’s sketches come to life.
This season, Lagerfeld drew inspiration from ’60s icon Edie Sedgwick and dispensed with skirts entirely, simply pairing his iconic tweed jackets with shiny black tights and two-tone shoes.
Eveningwear was as glamorous as it comes, with slim bodices made from tubes of organza that sprouted ostrich feathers at the sleeves and hem. Accessories included fingerless feather gloves and multiple rows of hoop earrings.
“This collection was ageless,” said U.S. Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley. “It’s for the 16-year-old girl, the woman who has a daughter who needs her first Chanel couture, and it’s for the 60-year-old woman who is an executive who needs a beautiful tweed suit.”