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by laurie brookins | November 1, 2010 | Style & Beauty
An easy shift dress paired with a floppy hat
A flirty tweed dress
Short shorts and a sheer gingham top
Ladylike tiers cinched with an obi belt
A tweed mini with a sexy open weave
An edgy netted dress with matching espadrille sandals
A hip hugging one-shoulder dress
A flowing black netted gown with a bold necklace
A bohemian caftan with a jeweled empire waist
High waisted cords a with disco gold bikini top and cropped tweed jacket
Resplendent in a purple satin jacket, Karl Lagerfeld smiles broadly as he strides across St-Tropez’s Quai Jean Jaurès, rhapsodic applause showering him from the surrounding audience as well as the balconies above—“like waves of love,” as Anne Baxter describes such a moment in All About Eve. Not that Lagerfeld has any cause to look over his shoulder, as Bette Davis did in that long-ago film. He is the undisputed rock star of Chanel, its Sun King, the man who revitalized an empire and ushered in its golden era (perhaps that’s the reason for the purple—Lagerfeld knows it’s historically the color of royalty).
As the actual sun dips below the horizon, the finale perfectly timed with the violet hue cast across St-Tropez’s harbor, we are applauding the clothes he has sent down the runway, a Chanel Cruise collection that explores boho-inspired luxe and modernity at once. But we’re also applauding the ingenuity of this meta moment, the idea that Lagerfeld has made us willing participants in a journey that is equal parts remembrance and discovery.
The 10 Best Looks at Chanel Cruise
A ROCKY START
Roughly 30 hours before, it didn’t look so effortless. For everyone other than Lagerfeld, that is: Cruise, which arrives in stores this month, debuted in late May, when much of the world’s air travel was brought to a standstill thanks to an Icelandic volcano, the name of which no one could pronounce and which few will soon forgive. Planes carrying supermodels and journalists were maddeningly delayed, and pre-show preparations that are always a little frenzied were only more so.
Chanel had taken over the Pan Deï Palais, a chic boutique hotel named after an Indian princess, as its temporary workplace, and as Karolina Kurkova rushed past me, five hours late, into her fitting, Lagerfeld indeed resembled the calm amid a highly stylish storm. At his desk in this de facto studio, I reminded the man who has helmed Chanel for 27 years that if he could move icebergs—the house famously trucked in a 265-ton chunk of glacier from Sweden for its Fall/Winter collection in March—then surely a volcano didn’t present any concerns? “Yes, this is true,” Lagerfeld said, enjoying the memory. “We did do that. So why should I worry?”
FITTINGS AND FILM
Lagerfeld seems his happiest while working on Chanel Cruise, a collection usually taken out on the road (The Raleigh had been the locale of choice for the 2008–2009 collection). The destination for 2010–2011: St-Tropez and the high-wattage glam of the Riviera, where Brigitte Bardot once washed up on a beach and the world was never quite the same, and jet-setters discovered its azure waters and decided this was the place to enjoy their wealth en masse.
“St-Tropez is a romantic idea,” Lagerfeld acknowledged as Amanda Harlech draped ropes of pearl chains onto another just-arrived model. “This collection is all about St Tropez ease, that sort of casual elegance, but at the same time something modern.” On this night and the next, Chanel would encompass all those ideas and then some.
The day’s fittings over, Lagerfeld and company adjourned to Place des Lices, the nearby town square, and its Cinéma de la Renaissance for the premiere of Remember Now, the short film he wrote and directed to coincide with Cruise’s debut. Remember Nowshowcases the playful decadence of St-Tropez life, its central story revolving around an aging playboy (played by French actor Pascal Greggory) who is besotted with sun-kissed, Chanel-clad models enjoying a never-ending party. Those featured in the 17-minute film—Elisa Sednaoui, Kurkova, Heidi Mount and Baptiste Giabiconi among them—were on hand for the premiere, which segued into dinner and a friendly tournament of pétanque, Provence’s version of bocce ball.
ON WITH THE SHOW
As the sky grew dark and the lights began to twinkle over the Place des Lices, Chanel execs, journalists and celebs ranging from Vanessa Paradis to Diane Kruger engaged in this St-Tropez tradition, with the locals watching with fascination and amusement. But it was the following evening when the wit of Lagerfeld’s decisions revealed itself. The show’s location was Café Sénéquier, an iconic waterfront spot known equally for its superb view of the St-Tropez harbor and its tables and chairs in a brilliant, highly lacquered shade of red.
At the twilight hour, the first group of models strode onto the Quai Jean Jaurès, all wearing flowing, diaphanous dresses in breezy pastel paisleys and florals, barefoot save for the lush ankle jewelry. If you didn’t immediately grasp the theme as ’70s boho chic—the long and languid vibe that radiates easy, liberated glamour—there on the runway was Georgia May Jagger, daughter of Mick and Jerry Hall, to pull it all together for you. (To add to the symmetry, Jagger famously married Hall’s predecessor, Bianca, in St-Tropez in 1971.)
After the parade of 87 looks, the crocheted caftans and bouclé hot pants, the crisp white peasant skirts and the paisley halter jumpsuit, Lagerfeld appeared in his purple, surrounded by an adoring cadre of models. Of course he’d known this would be the end result amid those frenzied fittings the day before. He’d practically foretold it in the film—if not the moment itself, then certainly its carefree joy, the dancetill-dawn luxury one feels when escaping to a place where clocks and schedules matter not. Even before he took his bow, as Georgia May revved up the runway on a Harley driven by Sebastien Jondeau, I thought, Clever guy, that Lagerfeld. He made us all part of the show while also making us long for the lifestyle imbued in every piece of these luxe, luscious clothes. Collectively, it was an event to remember—now, and for years to come.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY WIRE IMAGE