Runway

{live from the runway} Chanel RTW Fall 2012

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Chanel’s superstar designer Karl Lagerfeld turned Paris’ ornate Grand Palais into a crystal vault on Tuesday, sending out a look packed with trompe l’oeil tricks and glinting shades of violet and blue. Giant spears of mock-crystal filled the vast domed space, as the models filed past with crystal outlining their eyebrows, and clustered on the clear heels of shoes which crunched on a floor of glittering mineral dust.

“It’s the new three-piece suit — little skirt, little jacket and pants,” quipped the white-haired designer, who had swapped his trademark black and white look for a violet shirt and velvet coat for the occasion. Picking up on the sky-blue theme of Chanel’s couture show in January, blues were a keynote of the collection. “But this time it’s the blue of amethyst, of crystal — it’s more autumnal,” Lagerfeld explained backstage.

Crunchy crystal-like embroidery adorned the sleeves, hem or neck of dresses made from a mix of natural and synthetic materials whose recipe Chanel guards preciously secret. Chanel’s crystal leitmotif also translated into lots of transparency, like a long swishing multicoloured sleeveless dress, worn with leggings and a tiny blue rucksack with trademark Chanel chain straps. A series of grey-black woollen-looking coats and dresses mined a more mineral theme, with gently flared skirts cut on the knee and tiny cupped shoulders. And for evening there were feather-embroidered necklines, or a papier-mache like dress in dark autumn-leaf shades, with structured bodice and looser skirt and a voluminous ruff at the neck. Lagerfeld cited Czech cubism from the 1920s and 1930s as an influence for a series of wool coats and dresses with metallic breastplates or arm bands in diamond-shaped, coloured patterns. But he said his ready-to-wear line was also about “what people need in this day and age,” pointing out long coats that split high on the leg: “It’s for riding your bicycle!”

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