For a man running such a storied house, not to mention one who's currently enjoying his senior years, Karl Largerfeld is all about the modern. From his love of gadgets to his obsession with current pop culture and frequent bon mots in the press about living in the now, the Kaiser doesn't deal in the outdated. And, really, what is more modern than the convenience of the grocery store as we know it today?
Well, more like superstores, as in those giant Walmarts you find in the suburbs. You've got absolutely everything you could ever want under one roof, with so many choices it's almost paralyzing. These places are a consumer's paradise -- so easy, disposable... and very American.
To that end, Largerfeld erected his very own Chanel shopping center at the Grand Palais on Tuesday morning for his fall collection. Instead of art installations or Western tropes, there were aisles brimming with Chanel-branded pasta (carbs!), soda, meats (a very cleverly packaged "Jambon Cambon") cleaning products, home goods (seriously! a Chanel broom and doormat!) and so much more. To list every product would be like doing an inventory of an actual supermarché, so extensive was the stock. Garish signs in blue, red and yellow announced the daily specials, while #normcore "employees" milled around the checkouts wearing white cloaks over their button-downs shirts, unfashionably tucked into jeans and cinched with dad-looking leather belts. OMG, there were even plastic Chanel shopping carts.
And that was just the set. But it spoke to the clothes in such a big way, in terms of a grocery store being the great equalizer. All types of women -- from hip, young things to polished doyennes -- inevitably need to pop into one for some reason or another. So you had girls in crop tops and leggings -- so many leggings, from pink and shredded to glittery and purple...not to mention black and white tweed -- to fancy ladies in classic skirt suits, like the one who walked out in a pink ensemble, accompanied by a personal butler to carry her myriad Chanel shopping bags. Cleverly, some of the models were sporting metal baskets trimmed with the brand's signature bag chain; others had quilted black headphones wrapped around their necks.
Overall, there was a focus on the waist, as seen in the molded bouclé pantsuits and dresses that curved in to form a subtle hourglass shape, often with corset-like zipper detailing emphasizing the torso even more. But nothing looked too constricting or precious. There was a great sense of ease to the entire thing -- the slouchy leather track pants, the cozy mannish overcoats, the bright colors that echoed the packaging on the shelves. Even the more elaborate dresses, like a jaw-dropping red and peach number constructed from so many delicate floral appliqués, were brought down to earth with sneaker boots straight from the street. Oh, yes, that was big news: the trainer craze is continuing from couture -- this time in a lot of crazy hues with a flash of iridescence.
Once all the models walked out -- including one Kendall Jenner -- they milled about the space, browsing and picking up items. It was truly a fascinating vignette, with Karl taking a spin through the aisles on the arm of Cara Delevingne for his bow. When it was all over, a voice came over a loudspeaker announcing that, alas, the Chanel shopping center was about to close, but to enjoy the complimentary fruits and vegetables on the way out. A few people did grab an apple or one of the bags of candy for the taking -- including gummies shaped like Chanel No. 5 bottles, little black jackets and classic flap bags -- but, really, we wanted to loot the place (and, in fact, people did).