Chanel Cruise: luxury liner living

Ship Ahoy! Admiral Karl Lagerfeld took Chanel on its latest cruise on Thursday – setting sail in a massive mock liner built inside the Grand Palais.


Chanel Cruise 2019 - Pixelformula

Named La Pausa after Coco Chanel’s famed villa on the Côte d’Azur, the liner filled the enormous show space, with a roaring horn, ship bells and squeaking seagulls on the soundtrack.

But where Lagerfeld’s previous voyage, the Métiers d’arts in Hamburg, emphasized the Beatles, and rugged sea captains with deck hand pants, curvy pea coats and feather fantasy cocktails with sailor’s collars. This voyage was sunny, optimistic and easily the most current Chanel show in many seasons.

The front row was fresh faced too: Kristen Stewart, Margot Robbie, Phoebe Tonkin,  Àstrid  Bergès-Frisbey,  Marie-Ange Casta, Lily-Rose Depp, Leïla Bekhti and Kim Go-eun.

Karl riffed on the matelot and created a wonderful bolero shirt, in a flouncy cotton. Many models – and a few guests – wore a striking graphic black and white liner design. It was inspired by the Dazzle ships of WW1 when destroyers were painted in a diagonal camouflage the better to hide them at sea.

Chanel didn’t just launch a liner; it also sent senior editors and guests bottles of its 2007 fragance La Pausa.

Coco built the legendary villa in the early 1930s on the hills outside Roquebrune-Cap-Martin with sweeping views of the Mediterranean and the Italian coastline. Its name refers to the legend that Mary Magdalene “paused” nearby on her return from Jerusalem and the crucifixion of Christ.

And there were plenty of summery horizontal stripe dresses for a cocktail break in this show. Karl also sent out white sweatshirts with the villa’s name, and a red double C logo; oodles of white tights worn with dainty white patent leather shoes; classic Chanel pink tweed looks made into four pocket cocktails; and endless berets – which were the main accessories of this collection, which featured 80 passages before an audience of some 900 guests.
 
Pre-show, favored editors received pink or blue – for gals or guys – T-Shirts with a bold ocean liner sketch, the same that appeared on patent leather retro PanAm-style crew bags. For evening, he wowed with a series of blue paquebot prints made into trousers suits and picnic dresses. Ideal for a déjeuner champêtre in the original La Pausa villa.

The villa’s design echoed the convent in Aubazine, where Chanel had studied as a child, with an austere stone staircase, and a cloister enclosing a courtyard. A design of five windows is repeated throughout the house in reference to Chanel’s most famous scent No 5. Like her own aesthetic, it was largely in beige and white. 

But where today’s audience jet in to see a cruise liner, Chanel would take Le Train Bleu from Gare de Lyon to inspect the progress of the building work.

Noël Coward, Somerset Maugham, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper and Greta Garbo, as well as Rainier and Grace of Monaco, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Winston Churchill, were all guests, Churchill for over a year cumulatively. 

In a program note, the house of Chanel argued that a small fall 1919 resort collection Coco designed to be worn notably in the Atlantic seaside resort of Biarritz was the world’s first cruise collection.

After initially focusing on yachting sweaters and light jersey looks, Coco expanded this to include evening suits and gowns destined for dinners on luxury liners. Chanel cited an early reference in the December 1933 Harper’s Bazaar with the headline “Cruise Clothes.”

Coco herself loved the sea, taking multiple cruises with her lover the Duke of Westminster on his yachts Flying Cloud and Cutty Sark. It was from the deck of Flying cloud that she first discovered Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, meeting on the same yacht the architect Robert Streitz, who would design La Pausa.

At the finale, Lagerfeld took his bow at the liner’s gangplank with his long-time right-hand woman Virginie Viard, a moment he has rarely shared with anyone except his godson Hudson in recent years. The move immediately begged the question of a possible eventual succession to Lagerfeld, understandable after a remarkable reign of 35 years helming Chanel, the world’s most successful luxury fashion house.

But this evening in the Grand Palais it was all about a thoroughly chic collection.

Bon Voyage. 

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