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Jan 24, 2012
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Fasten your seatbelts: Chanel flies couture sky-high

Jan 24, 2012

PARIS - Chanel flew the fashion crowd sky-high on Tuesday, conjuring up a life-sized plane as the runway for an all-blue spring collection as it headlined day two of the Paris haute couture shows.

Stewards walked the length of the central aisle, offering champagne to Chanel's guests as they took their seats in the model aircraft, purpose-built inside the Grand Palais exhibition hall.

A model takes to the catwalk on of Karl Lagerfeld's pieces for Chanel in Paris on Jan 21, 2012. Photo AFP

"After the red carpet, the blue carpet," the house's silver-haired designer Karl Lagerfeld, in trademark black suit and shades, quipped to reporters.

"I love the plane," said the globe-trotting couturier. "There's nothing I find more relaxing. Your neighbours are stuck to their screens, there are no phones -- it's blissfully peaceful."

Dim-lit, with "Exit" signs, images of fluffy clouds overhead and a cockpit at one end, the aircraft was carpeted in navy with a Chanel monogram, and its seats swivelled round to offer a full view of the runway.

"Pretty cool, right!" smiled Diane Kruger, one of the actresses seen along with Cameron Diaz at the midday show -- the second of the day since the plane theme meant Chanel had to split its guest list in two.

"You never know what to expect with Chanel -- this time it's the Concorde!"

Lagerfeld used no fewer than 154 shades of blue for the collection, whose look was defined by wide, soft chimney collars, puffed sleeves, lots of linear silhouettes and low waistlines, on both short and long dresses.

"Blue is a palette all in itself," Lagerfeld said, "the colour of air, of the sky, or the eyes of a little cat" -- like the one he was recently given as a gift.

Chanel's first model stepped out in a sky blue short-sleeved dress, in a soft, almost spongy-looking fabric, cut just above the knee with a wide chimney collar, a defining band of fabric below the hips, and hands thrust into deep pockets.

Her hair was pulled into a huge backcombed crest shooting skyward, and her only jewellery was long sparking pendant earrings. As she walked the length of the aisle, the luggage hold lights came on one by one.

A succession of day suits followed, with subtle sequin embroidery, in tweed-like tones of navy, royal or pale blue -- and glittering blue heels to match the exact shade of each look.

There were navy coat-dresses, worn over bouffant sheer patterned long skirts, and with the same rounded collar, which Lagerfeld explained was held from within by an invisible structure.

For evening, with each dress the fabrics grew more intriguing and the glittering embroidery richer -- with intricate patterns sometimes repeated just below the hem on the model's tights.

Tiny glass-like pebbles adorned wide panels across dress bodices, shoulders or at the hem, while tiny origami-like nests of clear plastic, with a pearl sewn in their fold, formed shaded patterns on long dresses in the palest of blues.

Jewel-encrusted show-stopping dresses rustled with rich adornment as the last few models walked, and for the finale there was a wedding dress with a twist: with fully embroidered bodice, and ice-blue train stopping at the knee.

by Emma Charlton and Gersende Rambourg

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