*If you are catching up, you can read the first Discover CHANEL installment here
Every season, despite dozens of fashion presentations happening from New York to Tokyo, CHANEL runway show remains one of the most highly-anticipated collections and shows to see. Not only to check out the next masterful/curious/intriguing collection, but also to admire the setting that Karl Lagerfeld and his team dream up season after season (icebergs, demonstrations, supermarkets, oh my!). What I’m trying to say is…CHANEL shows are never ever boring, which is why I was so excited to finally be able to attend one in person.
Arriving at the Grand Palais early in my “something borrowed” CHANEL outfit, I saw street style photographers milling about, stylish (and not-so-stylish) peacocks walking back and forth, hoping to catch photogs’ eyes, security vans patrolling the perimeter, people handing out promotional breakfast packs to the hungry attendees (Macarons for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do!). Sensory overload, even before I set foot inside the grand venue.
As part of the Discover CHANEL program, my fellow bloggers and I got to go inside at the same time as the photographers, and before anyone else, so that we could check out the interior as it was intended. Welcoming us into the Brasserie Gabrielle, were impeccably-dressed “waiters”, and as I stepped into Coco Chanel-inspired French brasserie set at the Grand Palais, my jaw practically dropped to the floor – it was overwhelming. Attention to detail was immaculate – Parisian bar stands stocked with all of the usual breakfast accouterments from boiled eggs to Viennoiserie, fully-functioning coffee machines, where I totally ordered a cuppa since I didn’t have time for one before the show, reserved tables for the VIPs (of course, the first thing I did was find Anna Wintour’s table), mosaic-tiled floors…it was all perfect!
I resisted going to my assigned seat, hanging out around the bar area to people-watch, as one would at an actual brasserie. I spotted Grace Coddington’s red mane, Patrick Demarchelier settling into his booth, Giovanna Battaglia talking to friends excitedly, Carine Roitfeld posing for photographers, Hamish Bowles snapping photos of the bar with his cell phone, I even saw Karl Lagerfeld surrounded by a sea of black suits before the show.
I also snuck a photo of Anna Wintour mid-interview, hiding behind her signature shades; I felt like a naughty child or a stalker, but if Anna minded, her face didn’t show it. Before I knew it, the ushers were gently, yet firmly asking us to take our seats, and so I did, ready for the main event.
I found my seat just in time, as models began walking through the revolving doors, entering the brasserie, but after doing the obligatory runway walk around the room, some models would settle in at the bar to grab some OJ, while others would pile into the comfy booths for a chat or a selfie session. It felt fresh and unexpected to see models laugh together, order food, and basically show off the collection in action. As the show came to an end, models did not leave their various perches, but stayed behind for a sort of an installation presentation, where attendees could grab photos of the models up-close, as well as sit down next to them for a minute of make-believe – breakfast with supermodels at Brasserie Gabrielle, anyone?
As for the collection itself, this was one of my favourite CHANEL collections in a while. Dubbed the “French Collection”, it had all the staples that are expected from CHANEL – emblematic tweed, exquisite little black dresses, to-die-for bags, spectacular coats, but in line with the setting, there were also cheeky plate minaudieres, fork and spoon bags, pencil skirts in a fabric reminiscent of those brasserie mosaic floors, bomber jackets adorned with bows, skirts that looked like they were made out of folded white napkins (surprisingly cool!). While some pieces were very tongue-in-cheek, others were simply chic. Even the kookiest of pieces were still wearable and covetable, and very much in line with the spirit of CHANEL.
Being able to see many of those pieces up close after the show was a pleasant (and a very welcome) surprise. While Karl jumped behind the bar to serve orange juice and answer questions, many of the attendees (myself included) jumped at the chance to snap close-ups of the stunning collection, admiring both the models and the clothes in front of us. Most of the photos in this post were snapped by me, so you can probably see just how close we got to the models and to the sublime clothes.
After the show, our chic crew piled into a van to be whisked away to Coco Chanel’s rue Cambon apartment. Having visited the apartment in the past, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be able to go there for the second time! You can read my post about the first visit here. Once again, I could almost feel Coco Chanel’s spirit in the lavish surroundings. The place felt more familiar the second time around, but the visit was just as special as the first time. This time, I took some videos of the apartment, which I’ll be sharing in the original post soon.
Giddy from our visit, the bloggers and I headed back to rue Cambon to do some shopping after lunch, excited for next day’s visit to the CHANEL handbag factory! (to be continued)
More photos after the jump!