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It is an uncontested fact that Karl Lagerfeld draws the most glamorous women at Paris Fashion Week. And so it was earlier today that Claudia Schiffer, Vanessa Paradis, Keira Knightley, Lou Doillon, Alexa Chung and Lily Allen all congregated under one dramatic roof at the Grand Palais in Paris for the Chanel's Spring/Summer 2011 collection. The morning was truly a Parisian affair with cherished French ingénues Virginie Ledoyen and Clemence Poesy in attendance, however even Hollywood starlet Rachel Bilson slipped by and was spotted wide-eyed, snapping photos with a camera, which she promptly hid in her chain-link purse after seeing her French counterparts sans photo apparati.
The runway was made to resemble the grounds of the Versailles gardens, fashioned out of white gravel and black-lacquered hedges with a fountain in the middle, creating an almost Narnia-esque backdrop for the equally ornate collection. I certainly felt as if I had stepped through a wardrobe and arrived in Never-Never Land where women are eternally chic and are served champagne before noon. It was not difficult to imagine Marie Antoinette carousing at Versailles, thanks to the 100-piece orchestra, which provided the morning's soundtrack with modern classics from Bjork and The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony."
As for the clothes, Mr. Lagerfeld returned to Chanel's roots with variations on the tweed suit--namely mini culottes paired with boxy blazers in a cool palette of pastels with a slight dose of sparkle. This was classic Chanel at its best. Hair was minimal, slicked back into a simple low pony and fastened with a barrette. Trend alert? Leather thigh-highs, rough hemmed jackets and embroidered denim. Side note: it looks as if Lagerfeld might have us returning to the tried-and-true jeans and blazer ensemble a la the mid-nineties.
Of the 80-plus model show, Mr. Lagerfeld had all the icons--Angela Lindvall, Erin Wasson, Carmen Kass and model of the moment Karlie Kloss all walked the 85-look collection. But the highlight was undoubtedly when the European editors erupted into a round of applause at the sight of Ines de la Fressange, the first model to have ever been exclusively contracted by Chanel, sauntering down the catwalk in a black sheer floor-length gown with her weight in gold chains. Word has it Mme. De la Fressange and Mr. Lagerfeld had finally put an end to their decades-long rift and proved it today for all of Paris to see by walking hand in hand under the scrutiny of the entire fashion world. Well, leave it to Lagerfeld to choose the dramatic backdrop of the Grand Palais to show that peace and love do in fact exist--even in the world of Chanel.