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I think I’ve just been mind fucked by Karl Lagerfeld.
If you live in a cave or an abandoned coal mine or some other place that doesn’t have a WiFi connection, then you have missed the pivotal fashion moment of this season: the Chanel supermarket. With everything from brooms to garlic on offer branded with the famous logo, Chanel found stylised fun from the mundane, and created the talking point of the season in the process. You thought Kendall Jenner walking eyebrow-less down the catwalk at Marc Jacobs was memorable? Wait until you see her browsing a hyper-glam supermarket inside the Grand Palais, where everything on sale is branded with interlocking Cs.
The show perfectly balanced style and substance, offering a spectacle that will make for major column inches in the world’s newspapers and bullion heavy blog coverage, whilst subtly offering a clever message for those in the know. Dig a bit deeper than the tweedy, quilted surface and you’ll uncover Lagerfeld’s snarky commentary on modern life’s habit of pushing consumerism as a way of life. Delicate and light handed details, like stocking Chanel cleaning supplies or promotional signs that offer counter intuitive réductions of ‘+20%’ deliver a smart remark on our willingness to pay more for a branded product. While this would be fairly genius in itself, what happened at the end of the show proved the point more spectacularly than any fine detail. In a sentence I never predicted myself saying, the world’s fashion press shoplifted from the Chanel supermarket until its shelves were bare.
Check out Vine for the videos, they are spectacular. In one of them, I’m pretty sure you can see Anna Dello Russo shoving people out of the way to get her hands on a pair of Coco’s Finest rubber gloves. Official reports say it was absolute carnage, with fashion editors proving Karl’s point that consumerism turns us into crazed beings that can’t see past the mystique of a brand. All of the stuff on the shelves was exactly the same as what would be on offer in the nearest Carrefour, however the simple addition of that timeless logo makes low value goods as desirable as they are eBayable. To top off the bizarre, surreal chaos that was this show, security guards were positioned near the exit in an attempt to recoup the stolen goods. The thought of Susie Bubble being frisked for stolen Chanel olive oil is just too funny to bear.
That, and the clothes weren’t half bad either. It was quickly apparent that the surreal domesticated vibe from the staging came straight from the fashion, with a traditional 20th century housewife on an acid trip kind of a vibe reverberating around the room. Because ultimately, when the set is that much of a open-mouthed question mark, it’s pretty key the fashion should be too. This being Chanel, quite obviously there was tweed and pearls, but using styling features that had a palpable London streetwear feeling. You could call it the Deptford Wives, I suppose. The modish sportiness that washes over all of fashion these days made an appearance, with modern cuts, fresh fabrics and trendy trainers solidifying their position as shoe of the year, making even the flashiest Air Max look like the basic bitch of footwear.
In all, Karl’s latest ironic extravaganza easily blows away last year’s art school catwalk, leaving the fashion crowd worldwide with consumer culture on their minds. While in fifteen years the clothing may not be easily remembered, and the empty bottles of Chanel Cognac will be mere dusty mementos, let’s hope the pointed spectacle and its enduring message isn’t left behind.