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At Chanel, Indian Elegance in Silk And Tweed

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Paris-based fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel's Metiers d'art show.
  • PARIS,France

    It was case of acute sensory overload for guests at Chanel’s “Metiers d’art” show here Dec. 6 as they witnessed a spectacle of sophisticated takes on Indian staples smothered in accessories complimented by endless dinner tables heaped with a banquet fit for a Maharaja. 

    Karl Lagerfeld’s dreamy take on India combined the most unlikely fashion match of silk sarees and tweet jackets to present a perfectly chic look — one that tapped into Parisiennes’ obsession with black and Indians’ enthusiastic embrace of the entire color wheel to churn out an elegant composition.

    “It sounds terrible to say this, but India is the one country where even the poor have something very chic about them,” Lagerfield told reporters after the show. “Even if she has nothing, the poorest woman will have two-three bangles, an elegant pink sari. It’s very courageous,” he said.

    Lagerfield’s collection included rhinestone-studded dress coats shaped like salwar kameezes and sent out flowing broomstick skirts like those worn in certain parts of Rajasthan. 

    He paired cropped tweed jackets — Chanel’s trademark for decades — with a second-skin, thigh-high boots in supple leather that evoked the skinny churidar pants worn by Indian women.

    Knee-length silk skirts had the fancy draping of a sari, and the evening gowns were fitted with sweeping lengths of fabric the models draped over their heads, like pallus.

    And then there were the accessories.

    All the models, including an unusually large contingent of girls of South Asian descent, were swathed in what literally appeared to be their weight in jewels; chokers, dangly earrings, anklets in burnished gold and strand after strand of pearls and chains that ringed the models’ necks, waists and cuffs and ran from their oversized nose rings to their hair. 

    Delhi-born former model Kirat Young pronounced Lagerfield’s vision of India as “magnificent” and predicted it would win swooning approval back home. 

    “Everything goes on YouTube and people will be seeing this in India and they’ll be copying it straightaway,” said Young, who hit the tone of the collection spot-on in her pastel pink Chanel jacket and an antique silver sari that once belonged to her mother. 

    The runway was a thin strip of ground between the banquet tables, where waiters had bustled before the show, serving up steaming masala chai and topping off guests’ champagne flutes. 

    To see a trailer of the “Metiers d’art” fashion show, click here

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