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PARIS Spring 2004

In a brilliant example of how Hollywood and high fashion have become so closely, if mercurially aligned, the Chanel show on Friday morning offered the Paris Ready-to-Wear season what it had been missing.

Kate Moss, masked behind a pair of black sunglasses, took one look at the paparazzi swarming in front of her, then mumbled "I'm changing seats." Turning to an accompanying bodyguard, she snapped "get me out of here!" As she fled, a group of photographers got into a shoving match, one part claiming the other was tabloid press and not legitimate fashion press.

After a protracted interval backstage, in which flaring tempers were presumably calmed, Ms. Moss returned to her seat and the show began.

  But the moment had already been stolen, and so no matter what Karl Lagerfeld sent down the runway, the day's most poignant memory became the collision of two symbiotic worlds.

The show itself, staged on a runway that resembled a boardwalk, offered any number of classic Chanel looks, plus some modern turns on Mademoiselle's style.

For the signature tweed suit, pale rose and dark red were the colors of choice. In a new addition this season, noticeably lengthened lace skirts, with irregular hemlines, looked to have been crocheted by artisans in Brittany.

Chiffon dresses and pleated skirts floated beneath lightweight overcoats, and a sparkly metallic skirt, layered in fringe, was paired with a black top replete with silver appliqué.

Strands of beads, cascades of pearls, necklaces strung with Christmas-type ornaments and even black leather camellia brooches polished off the classically elegant Chanel wardrobe.

  Elsewhere, a dress splattered with magenta camellia prints, or a skirt split to reveal a pleated transparent film with mother of pearl finish, reinforced the modern legerity that ran as a theme throughout the collection.

With so many looks going on at once, the collection seemed to lack the focus and clarity that Lagerfeld displayed with his eponymous collection. But then again, Chanel caters to a very diverse market.

The finale of gossamer creamy eveningwear layered in circles, a cobalt-blue cocktail dress with an outer layer of black taffeta, and an appropriately moss-colored chiffon gown with lilting stole, all displayed the inherent elegance of fashion's most prominent star.

As Karl came down the runway, attired in a Dior Homme tailcoat, enormous applause erupted. He made no acknowledgement of his celebrity guest, but instead blew kisses to his sea of admirers.