Chanel Takes Over Paramount for Cruise Collection Show

Welcome to Chanel the Movie, presented on the storied studio’s historic Hollywood backlot

Chanel’s Cruise collection extravaganza at Paramount this week—about a thousand people deep—was strewn with giant fluorescent block letters spelling CHANEL and RUE CAMBON, lest anybody forget last week’s Met Ball and the new Chanel Beverly Hills boutique opening in Beverly Hills. Staged on the studio’s historic backlot, with flamboyant lighting and production values to rival Babylon, including the film’s star and Chanel ambassador Margot Robbie herself, in Chanel bellbottom jeans, a bra top and a gold chain vest. The evening unfolded like something Cecil B. de Mille might have dreamed up. I sensed a bit of La La Land too.

SCENE: Once past the gates on Melrose Ave., you could gape at the glittery Chanel-clad entrances of Marion Cotillard, Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Margaret Qualley, Sofia Coppola, Lucy Boynton, Riley Keough, Rashida Jones, Tracee Ellis Toss, Elle Fanning, Issa Rae, Lily Collins, H.E.R., Camila Morrone, Awkwafina, Roman Coppola, Nile Rodgers, Snoop Dogg, Lil Nas X. Never have such well-dressed people chowed down, at the neon-signed sushi, pizza and ceviche taco stations, oblivious to stains on white tweed. If you didn’t watch out, you might get run over by frantic Coachella-dressed roller skaters. A fun fair with fun fare. A mix of high and low, what fashion’s all about.

SET: The real action was in the show area—which could have been a set for Ted Lasso if that motley gang played in Hollywood with klieg lights, in a Union Station-sized soccer stadium with two mammoth Chanel logo-ed electronic score boards. Ted would have loved it. A giant video screen with romanticized French versions of L.A.’s icons loomed: sepia-toned images of a palm-tree-ed sky, an overhead L.A. cityscape, fireworks. Stunning Chanel models whispered to the literally well-heeled, gorgeous crowd. Were they mouthing “we’re even more gorgeous than you are?” En Francais?

Call it Chanelachella: an entire world within itself, lots of flowers in the hair (Coco’s camelias), a bastion of neon, music, people watching, champagne—and bathing suits with leg warmers. All that was missing were Radiohead and Beyonce.

ACT ONE: Did the clothes score as high as the scene? Cruise collections are amorphous: arriving in stores in November, they stay till February, when spring collections turn up. They were formerly small collections for women who travel to sun or beach over holidays. Chanel is one brand that goes all out for cruise: it includes pieces for hot weather and cooler, covering holiday parties and beach jaunts, often 90 or so pieces. Stores report that cruise often sells better than fall or spring and sell better in the Asian market than anywhere else.

First up was a group of black bathing suits—bodysuits?—shiny, sequined – shown with leg warmers and flats or white sneakers. Okay, boomer! For Chanel, the eighties are indeed back. Most models had very long, very big hair – the kind that bounces from tight rollers. I could almost see Kim Alexis and Patti Hansen on the cover of Vogue in 1986, with Way Bandy-style slashes of cheek bronzer and side parted locks. Paired with bathing suits and tiny short—they looked like Chanel-clad cheerleaders. Youthful? Bien sur!

ACT TWO: Chanel Cruise is loving all lengths: micro, mini, knee, midi and maxi. This group of dresses in sequins or sheer fabrics (two big trends for years) were knee-length. MIA for so long, they rocked the eye. Some had classic Chanel tweed jackets tossed over them—one in avocado green was particularly crave-able. While Chanel’s Met Ball showing, an ode to Karl Lagerfeld, was almost all black and white (Coco’s favorites), this show had colors galore. When on cruise control  . . .

ACT THREE: This was a longer, dressier group: fuschias! oranges! tangerines! Bra tops with maxi prairie skirts, loads of jewelry. Lots of stomach muscles. One clear new trend: gradient colors of purple melting into orange, jewel tones melting into each other—many on sequin dresses. They were paired with the accessory of the night, and likely, the season: oversized Chanel colorful shoulder bags with chain straps, some in gradient tones, too. With that bouncy shiny hair, the ladies lit up the night, tresses as reflective as their clothes. There was one group of longer lengths in a cross between tangerine and fuchsia—poppy, perhaps? It definitely popped, short or long.

ACT FOUR: Chanel mini-suits for the younger set: some with shorts. Pink pastels. Rainbow bucket hats. This was seriously Coachella, if 20-year-olds could spend thousands on one look. When the leg warmers returned—with short Chanel suits—I had to wonder: are leg warmers really coming back? Those of us who lived through eighties hated them. But many runway looks are just for effect. There were also sporty looks: an aqua satin shiny track suit, for example. The CC bags here were in gradient pink or blue, with short handles like tote bags. Sporty was a huge theme across the vast field.

ACT FIVE: Sheer black-printed long chiffon dresses, black with brights, always a winning combo. Mini sequin dresses with pink, blue and green gradient CHANEL, RUE CAMBON letters—big, big branding. Short quilted bags in satin so shiny no one could miss.

ACT SIX: More tweed, this time with shiny Lurex threads to party down in. Suits with mini shorts. Bra tops with gold satin track pants. Coco on steroids, Karl on five Diet Cokes.

ACT SEVEN: Long evening looks, mostly in black, silver or gold, with feather, sequins—and beaded leg warmers! Lots of sleeveless pieces were in semi-sheer fabrics. Sequin Chanel jackets were tossed over them like they’d been lying on a deck chair. (They weren’t, and would never be.)

FINALE: The exit walk of the myriad models, followed by a fast walk by Chanel designer Virginia Viard, showed the amazing range of the collection. Good thing Chanel’s now got a 30,000-square-foot store. All the looks at once was an absolute showstopper.

Fashion shows are exhausting—only twenty minutes, but a lot of adrenaline spent. Ah, Chanel the Movie. What production design like something out of Francis Coppola’s Vegas-set One From the Heart (Sofia and Roman were representing), with Moulin Rouge (the movie) thrown in. This show was a mashup of styles, with production design to suit a Baz Luhrman spectacular. Leave it to Chanel—they’re in a league of their own.

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