It was way past midnight and she couldn’t fall asleep. This night the dream was leaving, she tried so hard to keep. And with the new day’s dawning she felt it drift away. Not only for a cruise. Not only for a day. Too long ago. Too long apart. She’s waiting another day for the captain of her heart.
Could these words, printed on the page facing pianist and after party crooner Sébastien Tellier, prove to be the key to unlocking Karl Lagerfeld‘s most intimate aspirations? While known for staging the world’s most exceptional fashion shows, never has Chanel produced one as intimate and nostalgic as this Chanel Resort 2019 show. Under the glass dome of Paris’s Grand Palais, a great cruise ship was erected. Christened La Pausa—Italian for rest and a nod to Coco Chanel’s South of France villa—it was the great elephant in the room manifesting the break that Lagerfeld never once granted himself in his tireless career spanning 36 years and counting at the house of Chanel. It was to be a production rife with personal innuendo—written by a dramaturge contemplating what was, and what might never be. True love, finding the captain of one’s heart, or perhaps, immortality.
Following a moody prologue—where the great ship’s weight seemed to make floorboards quiver and seagulls squak, while steam puffed out of the red funnels, the lot of it against a black, starry sky—the switch flicked and out came models to the beat of deep house music. Mary Jane’s, some with sneaker soles, white stockings, and berets set the scene for a show that would feature models in fluttering dresses, tennis skirts, nautical pants, and double-breasted, navy blazers. Bejeweled interlocking Cs donned belts and sweatshirts. Shoulders were rounded and puffed, placed on tapered bodices—that even showed a peek of the midriff (yes that’s back)—creating something of a Mickey Mouse ear silhouette. But then fashion has long been child’s play for Lagerfeld. One big massive playground of icebergs, gardens, and ships at papier-maché sea and a jungle gym of Lesage embroidery. On this occasion, as the collection picked up tempo, a scattered storm of clashing prints, excessively ripped jeans, and high-waisted leather pants in primary colors appeared. Rage, rage against the dying of the light, or something like that, seemed to be Lagerfeld’s message.
When the show was over, his faithful followers rushed on deck to dine on caviar, crab, and oysters. Guests remarked at how civil everything appeared aboard their cardboard ship. And so it was. Divinely so. Meanwhile in the VIP area, Lagerfeld’s friends were all there: his bodyguard Sebastien Jondeau, model Brad Kroenig and son Hudson, eternal French muse Caroline de Maigret, and of course, Lily-Rose Depp, twirling on the dance floor to the set of 2ManyDJs. At this moment Godfrey Deeney appeared to recount his moment with the man of the hour. “He didn’t want to give any interviews, but I asked him about model-of-the-moment Kaia Gerber,” he said, giddy to deliver the punchline. “I only want to talk about Luna,” answered the designer, referring to the Dutch model who closed the show. With haste, Lagerfeld turns a page and with it, his wheel to the future. This night the dream was leaving, he tried so hard to keep.