The man behind the Chanel

In a flurry of the emotional days before my A2 summer exams, my friend Zach and I decided to book a tightly budgeted trip to Paris, fashion capital of Europe. With just under £300 pounds for five days, our goal was to indulge ourselves with Parisian fashion and culture.

On the first of many unbearably hot days, we got lost in a maze of famous graves at the Père-Lachaise and paid our respects to Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf.

On the second day, we worked our way down the Champs-Elysées and adorned the various fashion houses in our summer shorts like true tourists. However, my real fashion journey didn’t begin until the third. We were to meet our living idol.

The wonder of Le Tour Eiffel can only be truly appreciated in person. There was one benefit of the tourist-frenzy: instead of queueing we decided to climb to le premier etage, only reachable by foot.

It was then as we walked onto the mezzanine, did the one and only Karl Lagerfeld, Creative Director of Chanel, appear in all his glory under dappled light wearing his signature dark sunglasses.

He was doing light testing on a mini spiral staircase for a photo shoot with an elegant model, who reminded me of a young Sarah Jessica-Parker. He placed a ring of Eiffel Tower keychains on her head like some sort of fashion coronation.

His entourage were intimidating to say the least. All were dressed in black suits (women included) and dark shades. He even had his own butler. We stared and they glanced. One even laughed, but we didn’t care. We knew we were paupers in comparison to this genius.

I felt ashamed not to be wearing black, in my cheap tortoise-shell sunglasses, camel tee and cornflower blue shorts. My companion, however, was wearing a wonderful (although neither black) flax tee with ecru shorts and a summer scarf. What was even worse was my daft move to wave at him. Who waves at Karl Lagerfeld? I didn’t have the chance to make amends before he turned away in what I could only guess as disgust (his face doesn’t move much and his sunglasses cover his eyes). I assumed we had evaded his mind instantly.

Four months later, the Women’s Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 2010 Chanel collection showed in Paris, and the contents were alarming.

Karl had stuck with some darks and blacks but had sprinkled the whole thing with tones of what can only be described as hay-yellow.

The silhouettes were childish, the cuts were messy, but the effect was alluring. A menagerie of country-festival and rock with delicate prints, Parisian shapes, and the added affect of primary based colouring created a youthful collectiom.

At the end of Lily Allen’s set, three models clambered onto a bale of grass and canoodled whilst Karl himself strode on and off in a brisk fashion. The show was rather reminiscent of feudal times, with farming and the country at the centre.

I thought back to June, when Karl looked down on Zach and I in our own shades of hay and wondered if maybe we had had some sort of lasting influence. Maybe Karl was sending a message to the people.

We weren’t just tourists – we were fashionistas; serfs and promoters of the house of Chanel, and he, our fashion Lord.

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