Dispatches from Paris: Chanel

Roll up! Roll up! It’s the Chanel Supermarket...

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By: Rebecca Lowthorpe Follow @Rebecca_ELLE

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Has Karl Lagerfeld ever set foot in a supermarket? Can we just take a moment to picture this: Karl wheeling a shopping trolley; Karl weighing his fruit and veg; Karl having a chat to the lady behind the checkout about the weather. The answer is, of course, emphatically 'no'. The normal, mundane and everyday is not for the likes of Mr Lagerfeld, but this didn’t stop him transforming the Grand Palais into the greatest supermarket on earth. He must have sent special Chanel spies on a mission to find out what goes on in a supermarket, how these aisle thingies work, what to do with a trolley, what a basket should look like – he couldn’t help draping his with silver chains and Chanel logos.

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This has got to be Lagerfeld’s most adventurous and spectacular show project to date, a life-size supermarket where aisle upon aisle and shelf upon shelf was stacked to the gills with Chanel product. Move over Monoprix! Make way for The Chanel SUPER Marche! This was awesomely extravagant, the most extreme expression of super-consumption from the world’s most consumed luxury brand: A whole aisle of Chanel teas (‘Little Black Tea’, ‘Very Early Grey’), a cheese stall (giant wheels of parmesan), vegetables, dairy products, mountains of tins of caviar, coconuts (‘Lait de Coco’), packets of Chanel toast stamped with the interlocking CC logo, wines, spirits, olive oil. There was even a hardware store featuring Chanel rubber gloves (labeled ‘So Chic’), Chanel doormats (‘Mademoiselle Prive’), Chanel feather dusters and, yes, a Chanel chainsaw too.

The British press was seated in front of a display of tissues and cotton wool balls to watch the hip hypermarche spring to life. And the clothes? Like the supermarket, they summed up fast fashion in the most luxurious way possible: Speedy, sporty, streety and special. Cara Delevingne stepped out in a cropped bubblegum pink sweater and knit leggings, slashed with holes, a Chanel bag chain around her bare midriff, metallic trainers on her feet, a big tweed coat and her hair in ragga-girl plaits and dreads festooned with scraps of fabric. Genius! Stella Tennant entered from the biscuit aisle wearing silver leggings and a top, a big grey tweed coat and trainers and carrying a Chanel shopping basket made from Chanel bag chains. Brilliant! Kirsten Owen wore a wadded tweed coat and a giant padlock around her neck. Awesome! A couple of uber chic shoppers, playing ‘man and wife’ entered: she wore classic pink Chanel with pearls and trainer-cum-snow boots that laced to the knee and he wore a black suit and carried about 20 Chanel shopping bags. Hilarious!

At the end of the show, a voice over the tannoy said: ‘Dear valued customer, the Chanel store is now closing. Please feel free to pick up your complimentary fruit and vegetables as you leave’ – words that have never before been uttered at a fashion show. Typically however, the desire to smash and grab was too much for some who tried to make off with packages of tea, hidden under their coats.

It was impossible to speak to the man behind it all, swamped as he was with well wishers and the ever-present Rihanna and her crew of bodyguards. But given the chance, to ask one question it would have been this: ‘Karl, have you ever set foot in a supermarket?’ To which he would have most certainly replied. ‘Only this one.’

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