May 2012: One of the most trendsetting shows I've ever seen was in the gardens of Versailles where Chanel showed their Resort 2013 collection. It was a spectacular romp of pastel hair and sneakers which at the time, shocked everyone in attendance. The mash up of Louis Quatorze influences with a punk Marie Antoinette retro vibe was a fizzy eye-popping delight that ranks way up on my list of best-ever spectacles. And it is a great example of how innovative designers have the power to shape major fashion trends.
While pink hair is more common now, five years ago, pastel hair and sneakers worn with high fashion was electrifying. I love this illustration that was recently featured by master hair stylist Sam McKnight in an exhibit of his work in London. Karl Lagerfeld and his team turned beauty and fashion on their head with this groundbreaking presentation.
My first clue that something really different was about to be shown was when Amanda Harlech, Lagerfeld's muse, stepped out of her car in a full-length gown and ... sneakers. The collection that followed was like Marie Antoinette on speed. The models bounced past the tents we were seated in wearing platform trainers (and a few in heels). I looked down at my strappy sandals and felt ... wrong.
Lagerfeld took 18th century details such as panniers and fichu collars and spun them in denim and plastic. He paired lacy ruffles with shorts and silver tech heels or shiny gold sneakers. And five years later, I see girls with candy coloured hair hop on the subway. This show, in my eyes, was the start of a new girly toughness that we still love today.
Sneakers were the smart choice for the gravel runway that wound around three of the fountains at Versailles. Today, designer trainers (at $1000 and up per pair) covered in glitz and sequins are commonplace. They're worn with everything from jeans to gowns ... and the look works. Chanel was the first to show the look in such a major way and continued it with couture.
At the show's finale, Karl practically sprinted around the runway with a big grin. The crowd, including Tilda Swinton accompanied by designer Haider Ackermann, roared their approval in the late afternoon sun. Then we all walked through the gardens to the Bosquet des Rocailles where the Sun King himself staged shows. Alice Dellal and her punk band, the Karla Lagerfeldas, performed. I snacked on French fries and champagne before heading back to Paris.
And now at age 83 (or so the rumour goes), Karl Lagerfeld continues to turn out buzzy collections every season. His shows for Chanel have always been my favourites and the most anticipated. Next up? Couture in Paris.
While I'm looking forward to seeing what Lagerfeld does for Chanel couture, I've also got Dior and Valentino on my radar. Next week's couture shows are where many of the Oscar night red carpet gowns will be sourced. The runway version usually morphs into a more wearable design - sleeves and linings are added, necklines raised and even colours changed. Celebrity stylists will be stalking the runway or Vogue.com for instant replay. And right now, all three couture houses are their top picks. February 26 is Oscar night. I can't wait!