“It’s about Chanel, but wearing it played down,” announced Karl Lagerfeld, just before the Spring show. “Sweet, but not too ladylike.” Thus introduced, a parade of neat but never uptight soft little pastel-pink checked tweeds, dainty microprinted georgette dresses, guipure lace skirts, and fresh takes on Coco’s favorite tricot dressing trotted out happily. The inimitable signature jacket came light as a cardigan and delightfully trimmed with tiny raw-edged chiffon ruffles in place of the classic braided edging. To further underscore the superior abilities of Chanel’s workshops, Lagerfeld took the pattern of antique knitted bed covers (a labor-intensive, French-provincial technique called “ouvrage des dames”) and had it reproduced in narrow, scallop-edged cardigan coats which he slipped over short dresses. Even the teensy bikinis were done up in crochet.
A cute idea popped up amid all this sweetness: the khaki trench, Chanelized by ridges of tweed inset at the seams. That’s no ordinary edging, as Lagerfeld took pains to point out; the tweed was specially woven by the great Parisian couture-craft supplier Lesage. In a world where the word “luxury” has been overused and devalued, Chanel is one house where the standard flies as high as ever. And it is Lagerfeld’s nonchalance with these to-die-for details that imbues the clothes with their essence of confident chic.