It was on a larger-than-life voyage that Karl Lagerfeld invited his guests this Thursday, 3rd May 2018. Beneath the nave of the Grand Palais transformed into a cruise ship terminal, the La Pausa liner docked for the duration of a runway show. Majestic with its main bridge and two upper decks, it waits for the passengers to board before sounding its horn, lifting the anchor and sailing away to some Mediterranean port. “My earliest memory isn’t of a boat, but of the sound of a boat”, confided the designer.
The atmosphere is relaxed and happy: with children’s party shoes or strappy sneakers on their feet, the travellers are already sporting their big round sunglasses, white tights and berets in tweed, cotton or sequins, ready to travel comfortably and in style, just as Gabrielle Chanel did. Their silhouette is a taste of holidays to come: short or long, it reveals the skin and a hint of waist, swathed in bright whites, sun-gorged pastel hues, and dazzling pinks and blues. Prints of boats or sharks’ teeth, wave and porthole motifs, and aqua sequinned embroideries scintillating like the reflection of the sun on water, are like a call to the high seas. The tweeds and cotton poplins, the silk chiffons, the crêpes de Chine and georgette, the fishnet and the crochets, the denim and the leather, the PVC ennobled with feathers and braids… All define a welcome lightness, floaty yet warming beneath the balmy breezes.
Tweed dresses are narrow and ultra-short, flirting with the line of a tunic. The iconic jacket, fastened with La Pausa stamped buttons, becomes a double-breasted blazer-dress and is worn alone or with a white pleated skirt. Larger jackets hide tweed mini-skirts beneath them. Tweed outfits have rounded, voluminous shoulders and are worn over skater skirts. The suit is back adorned with flat pleats, accompanied by a little skirt, carrot-leg trousers or Capri pants. Dresses in tweed or cotton poplin have an accentuated high waist and are finished with smocking. Crop tops in crêpe de Chine printed with cruise liners and wind roses are coupled with fluid trousers. Long lightweight coats in cotton are embroidered with escaping multicoloured threads, echoing the streamers thrown down to the dock at the moment of departure.
When not inspired by the traditional sailor tops, stripes plunge vertically over blouses and skirts in poplin embellished with round porthole-like patterns. We find them on wide-cut trousers coupled with sweaters emblazoned with the ship’s name, La Pausa. Flat pleats, blazers, suits, soft trousers, pyjamas, stripes, little knits: the codes of the Cruise collection are all reunited and infused with details that change everything: a rounded and voluminous shoulder, a hem shortened to the extreme, sequin embroideries mixing cork, fabric, pearlised PVC and tin can metal, as well as the most unexpected materials. PVC thus appears on dresses and tweed outfits. Bound by blue, red, pink and white feathers, it brings little strappy dresses to life. It also features on a suit woven from multicolour threads in the style of a tweed.
Berets, round sunglasses, precious cuffs, fingerless gloves, sautoirs and beaded belts accessorise these silhouettes bursting with freshness. The bags in whites, blues and pinks, have also set sail: the largest are supple and swathed in net-like rope, others are held with rope straps and the saddle bags are beach-ready in printed waxed canvas. The BOY CHANEL becomes a satchel and is worn high and straight, returning in a leather printed with sharks’ teeth. CHANEL’s GABRIELLE bag is adorned with exotic leather in sunset hues while the new CHANEL 31 bag comes in silver leather or as a small two-tone clutch. Between the sequinned evening clutches, Karl Lagerfeld has fun slipping in lifebelt minaudières in which multicolour camellias float.
Evenings with dinner at the captain’s table and nights made for dancing, are the perfect opportunity to step out in grand pleated dresses in crêpe de Chine or printed chiffon, and a long sheath dress buttoned all the way, with ruffles sharpened like watery blades. Crop tops and their godet skirts in black fishnet or navy and white crochet revisit the sailor spirit, while the skirts also lengthen into long dresses in black and white entirely sequinned stripes or in a speckled tweed. Backs are nude, on the dresses worked with tails draped from the bust to the lower back, and on the sheath dresses in mesh fishnet embellished with aqua, white and coral sequinned chevrons. A final sheath dress, with a wide belt, is completely sequinned and hand painted with “waves of love and the sea”, as described by Karl Lagerfeld.
Departure is imminent. A party is being prepared onboard for the pleasure of CHANEL’s passengers and friends including the House ambassadors Margot Robbie, Kristen Stewart, Lily-Rose Depp, Gaspard Ulliel, Caroline de Maigret, Clotilde Hesme and Alma Jodorowsky, the Chinese actor and singer William Chan, the Australian actress Phoebe Tonkin, the Japanese actress Nana Komatsu and the English director Steve McQueen.