RAINING KARLS AND MODS
Rain and being rained on is never a glamorous thing. Yet despite the dripping doom being dispersed from Paris’ clouded grey skies on Tuesday (accompanied by an icy air that seemed to have made an appearance just to make the packs of mini-clad twig-legged beauties cringe), nothing could chase away the overwhelming aura of glamour surrounding the ever-anticipated CHANEL show: the house whose namesake is synonymous with what the world has come to define as the height of chic, and whose current, future-chasing father (Kaiser Karl) is inarguably one of fashion’s most influential and controversial characters.
At the dramatic main entrance of the Grand Palais, fashion icons, It-Girls, brand-devotees and loyal customers carefully scaled the majestic steps in readiness for one of the most transportive experiences of their month, being blinded all the way by a concentration of clicking cameras belonging to die-hard fashion bloggers braving the interfering conditions. Yet tucked around the corner, in a less conspicuous, more underground setting, existed the less-frequented, more exclusive entrance. A surprisingly small paparazzi posse clustered around a set of impressively oversized-yet-proportionate double doors, their close proximity to one another likely driven more by their diminishing core temperatures than by a lack of available space. Coming up to meet Karl-standards, a small herd of devastatingly handsome boys stood behind the admittedly less-attractive micro security force… their purpose, other than being beautiful, was soon to become apparent. Photographers and standers-by did not have to spend long focusing their energies on shouldering each other in determined attempts to score the ideal hunting position for a perfect point-and-shoot.
It was not long before a succession of shine began: shiny, black over-polished private cars, from which shiny, perfectly preened celebrities emerged, who were in turn faced with a shiny light-and-sound show of sequential oversized camera flashes, omitting their biggest and brightest blazes in a bid to successfully earn their keep. The whole affair was an adrenaline-spurred guessing game. The importance of each car was marked by the sudden rush of the otherwise stagnant, chiseled-faced model boys, who would swiftly stride out, straight-backed in a rush to form an instant covered walkway with their canopy of well-logoed umbrellas, beaming boastful double Cs in protest to the ruinous weather. The modest crowd shared an incessant electric hype, anticipating who would slide out from the next chauffeured chariot.
Two arrivals were unmatched. Firstly, the Maison’s own royalty: the regal white lion with his infamously beribboned ponytail strode through a chorus of stifled gasps, eyes peeking out from behind viewfinders. The designer arriving to his own show on time with his guests? Few words other than glamorous would suffice. It was only minutes later that there was a quiet scuffle among the pretty parapluie garçons in their haste to gather where the most recent gleaming vehicle had come to a halt. Their sudden attention was a tip-off to all who waited with cameras poised. A cry emerged from a young German freelancer: ‘Anna! Anna Wintour!’, her companion’s fedora falling victim to her excitedly gesticulating arm. Elbows nudged. Necks craned. Flanked by a poncho-sporting André Leon Talley, there it was: the burnished blonde bob, with its power to instantly authenticate the legitimacy of the event (if Lagerfeld himself wasn’t already enough).
The doors were soon sealed behind the infamous editor, and the lingering, rain-bedraggled crowd was left outside with imaginations running wild about the alternate universe that had been created inside. Another world, so close in proximity yet so inaccessible to those who had not been extended an invitation into CHANEL’s most recent realm. Being fed only murmurs of the muffled soundtrack was the sole clue to the experience that guests inside awed by. And while the lapsed time had accommodated a hypnagogic journey for the show’s attendees, it was no more than 15 minutes later that the gates were once more unlocked, releasing Ms. Wintour from the temporary escape. Her famed hair bouncing with each step, it was not the plush fur collar or layered jewel neck adornments that caught one’s eye the most, but the glowing smile that she wore: a telling tick of approval.