With more security than some airports, a bigger audience than many concerts and a budget larger than most can hope to earn in a lifetime, Chanel is a show of epic grandeur. This season, we were whisked away to the seaside, without having to leave the comforts of Paris’ Grand Palais. Sun-bleached decking was sprinkled with grains of sand as waves softly lapped at editors' feet. Stewards showed us to our seats dressed as beach club waiters, and a lifeguard watched over the surf in denim cut-offs. No expense had been spared to create this all-encompassing, Instagram-able experience.
Chanel-on-Sea was based on the Isle of Sylt - a small island in the Frisian archipelago parallel to the border of Germany and Denmark - where Lagerfeld spent his childhood summers in the 1940s, playing on its white sand beaches which have been smoothed and purified by years of North Sea wind. These childhood memories served as a starting place for this collection, a sanctuary away from the rigidity of the city.
The collection featured a range of hues related to summer in all its differences. Pinks were pale as a sunrise just before it breaks the horizon, celestial blues echoed the shallowest of rock pools and shocking canary yellow beamed like the sun itself. Lightweight Chanel tweeds were constructed into roomy oversized jackets, double layer skirts and A-line dresses - these were so roomy that it appeared as if the wearer could change in and out of her bikini top beneath them. Shoes were carried like bags, allowing models to meander into the water as they paced la plage. The usually strict and narrow lines associated with the house were blurred with lace and ruffles, creating a dynamic contrast between fluidity and structure, city and sea. Sportier shapes were also on show this season in the form of bike shorts paired with tailoring. Asymmetric swimwear appeared beneath straight leg jeans, accessorised with a straw boater hat. Beachballs became handbags and caps had dual branded brims (CHA on the front, NEL on the back) to protect from the sun’s beating rays.
Whilst fuzzy shearling bags and full-length leather skirts do not immediately read as believable suntanning essentials, there is a booming market for beach club attire. A wealthy handful are more than willing to pay top dollars to outdo their neighbours on Lake Como or on the Pampelonne in St Tropez. For the rest of us, who don't fall into this category, Michel Gaubert’s soundtrack, featuring Niagara’s mid 80’s hit L’Amour A La Plage, was enough to get us in the mood for a mid-season getaway. After all, whether in a wetsuit or Chanel suit, who doesn’t like to be beside the seaside?