The Chanel Couture Show Was on a ‘Plane’

Karl Lagerfeld acknowledges the applause of the audience after the Chanel Haute-Couture Spring / Summer 2012 Show as part of Paris Fashion Week at Grand Palais on January 24, 2012 in Paris, France.
Karl Lagerfeld acknowledges the applause of the audience after the Chanel Haute-Couture Spring / Summer 2012 Show as part of Paris Fashion Week at Grand Palais on January 24, 2012 in Paris, France. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Apparently the seating for the Chanel couture show, which walked in Paris this morning, was very limited because the stage was a plane. And as all of us commercial travelers know, planes are cramped places. How Karl Lagerfeld — who so memorably flew privately in the documentary Lagerfeld Confidential — knew that is a bit of a mystery. The seats were rumored in advance of the show to be “throne-like,” or extra-wide, hence greatly limiting the number of guests who could attend, which is said to have upset many editors in the U.S. who were not awarded a seat on the Chanel plane, which was erected over the course of five days in the Grand Palais. (Though given Karl Lagerfeld’s past Chanel stunts, like the real iceberg imported from northern Europe, one could be forgiven for thinking it was an actual plane that took off and flew around.)

The clothes the models wore vaguely referenced airline flight attendant uniforms.

“I didn’t want to make it too literal, ” said Lagerfeld backstage. “If you look at what air hostesses really wore back in the ‘60s, it wasn’t that great”.

Of course, the questionable tastefulness of a spendy couture show in These Economic Times will be acknowledged in the reports about the shows this week. But what’s so curious about this Chanel show is that Karl managed to turn commercial coach air travel, a thing made so much worse by the crap economy for everyone who has to do it, into something glamorous that got people allegedly very riled up over not being given a seat. Never one to shy from controversy, whether it’s giving Lindsay Lohan a “love slap” or dressing models in yellow face for a fashion show in China, Lagerfeld’s work this morning might be seen as a little bit of flysploitation, capitalizing on that very horrible thing that the 99 percent has to endure if they want to get from point A to point B on a plane. Does he know the history of the shrinking, very un-thronelike coach seats? Of the once-free snacks that now feel like dreams? Of being burdened on layovers with luggage that one does not want to pay money to check, and then being forced to check your bag at the gate because the asses who got on the plane before you took up all the overhead space? The distress of getting sat behind a seat-back pocket bereft of a the required reading that is Sky Mall? Four-hour soundtracks of one crying baby? Judging by the footage of him on the plane here (at 6:30) and here (at 4:10), one might guess not.

See highlights from this morning’s Chanel show, including some guests who looked like they couldn’t believe they had to ride in coach for this show, in the slideshow.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/2012 Getty Images

Karl Lagerfeld

The Kaptain takes a bow, triumphant once more.

Photo: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/2012 Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho

The Plane!

Tinted blue, like the clothes, with what one would imagine is an unnecessarily extra-wide aisle (no luggage, no fat people), and seats turned at an angle making it more difficult for all the guests to secretly stare at each other, which is 80 percent of the fun of going to a fashion show.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/2012 Getty Images

Daphne Guinness

The fear we normal people feel when faced with boarding a flight is clearly present in her eyes.


Mirte Maas

Couture ombre.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/2012 Getty Images

Cameron Diaz

Hardly a fashion show regular, Cameron was at Dior yesterday and now Chanel today. And something about her body language says she’s freaked out, maybe because Dior didn’t ask her to board a plane. Do you think Chanel did that thing where the “priority” sky miles members like Cameron got to walk down a separate blue carpet to board before everyone else walked to their seats in a lane right next to but bereft of a blue carpet?


Joan Smalls

The hair was inspired by Alice Dellal, the girl with the partially shaven, partially long hair. Joan Smalls, a favorite of Karl’s, was a rare black face in the show.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/2012 Getty Images

Gulnara Karimova

This spectacularly dressed guest is the daughter of the Uzbekistan dictator, whose New York Fashion Week show was fiercely protested after IMG disassociated from it. She’s one of the lucky ones who got a Chanel couture seat, apparently.


Isabella Melo

More clothes.

The Chanel Couture Show Was on a ‘Plane’