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PARIS, March 3, 2006 - Karl Lagerfeld is a little too well dressed to be mistaken for an eccentric German grandpa, otherwise you might expect him to be running around in lederhosen tinkering with cuckoo clocks in his spare time. Instead, he photographs the rich and the famous, acts as a style consultant for Vogue, brings his considerable reputation to support Hedi Slimane each season at Dior, and for a day job designs Fendi, Chanel and his eponymous label now transferred to New York. One of my favorite photographs is his picture snapped of Marilyn Monroe at a Frank Sinatra recording session in the early 60s. Longevity more than anything has been his watchword.

Younger designers could learn an important lesson from him, namely from his ability to keep the House of Chanel looking young and fresh each season by infusing his own ideas without recopying archival sketches.

Friday morning’s show held in the Grand Palais saw models trooping down a long runway set up under enormous skylights, and singer Sting sitting front row. Among the reworked tweed suits, the golden filigree added to the shoulders of a jacket, and the band of stained glass crystal embedded in the bodice of a black tulle evening dress sparkled in baroque effect. Not to worry - Mademoiselle’s dark color palette of black and beige ruled the catwalk, and her camellias were strewn down the back of a cape. Add in miniskirts paired with white leather 60s-style knee boots and you have something for just about everyone.

Karl called the collection “Paris sur scène”, but what époque he was focusing on was intentionally blurred. What was clear - these clothes were aimed at the elegant woman of today, hurrying somewhere in style.


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