I sometimes think there is someone behind the scenes dictating to me,” Karl Lagerfeld told me right after the finale of his effortlessly elegant Paris-Byzance show in the Chanel’s couture salon on Rue Cambon. Is it the ghost of Mademoiselle Coco? Or some spiritual connection to another realm of consciousness? Or is it simply that Lagerfeld is the only couturier in our time who can, as Sergei Diaghilev said, “Etonne-moi!” (Astonish me!) from one season to the next.
His grand spring 2011 show, inspired by André le Nôtre’s Versailles gardens, featured an 80-piece orchestra. “After the Petit Palais, I wanted to go back to something intimate,” Lagerfeld continued. We were seated on low banquettes against gold-pailletted pillows made from the same fabric he used to cover the entire couture salon (400 meters!), turning it into a seraglio of golden shimmer. On long hand-painted canvas carpets, the show unfurled to the music of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. The clothes were not as moody as the sound track, but with blazes of modernity. To open a show with a dark navy pea coat with small square jeweled buttons, slim jeans in fabric made just for the house, and intricate, jeweled flat sandals was a signal that this was a show about super, sexy cool.