PARIS, March 2, 2005 - By the time Karl Lagerfeld pumped a jeweled fist into
the air backstage after the Lagerfeld Gallery show on Wednesday morning, he'd
proven how firmly his finger is planted on the pulse of a younger generation.
"Fashion has to have the power of youth," he so rightly said. He was
standing there, surrounded by beautiful young women in various stages of nakedness,
looking his classy self - a pleated Dior silk tux jacket wrapping his thin frame,
and one of Hedi Slimane's super-sized bowties falling from his starched shirt.
From the pounding show that he'd just presented, you would never have guessed
that Karl is also France's premier couturier, having guided Chanel for the past
quarter century. But that is part of his aura, his ability to adapt to changing
times, bringing with him all the elegance of a past era.
For Lagerfeld Gallery, this was the most rocking show yet seen, and you could
feel that newfound power, perhaps brought on by his anschluss with Tommy Hilfiger,
perhaps inspired by his friendship with Hedi Slimane. High collar boss coats
were picked with starburst brooches for a regal effect. Mink stoles were grilled
into a grid pattern that mimicked the billboard of LED lights that he used as
a backdrop. Wide belts, illumined with a Times Square marquee pattern, read out
the label's name in red like a stock market ticker. Sharp angled lapels framed
jackets, and fox trimming wound around sleeves and hoods, while at the very same
moment, ski caps and mink hats were pulled down over the ears - and it looked
like, well, the way most kids dress today.
The soundtrack sang out "natural beauty unaffected", and that concept
is key to it all, and the reason why most of the world's high powered editors
are watching the evolution of Lagerfeld Gallery as closely as a whole new crop
of Generation Y, for whom Karl is a style icon. Witness the rush on H&M when
his limited collection for the Swedish discount retailer premiered last November.
Even André-Leon Talley, Vogue's Editor-at-Large, had flown in from the
Oscars and was sitting amid the New York consortium on the front row, a Louis
Vuitton mega-scarf wrapped around his neck.
And the beat goes on.