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Paris Fashion Week – Chanel’s romp in the hay

This year’s Paris Fashion Week has been a-mazing, there’s been so many designers that I want to comment on that I’ve hardly been able to keep up. When it finishes I’ll do a blog with a breakdown on the best and worst (ahem, Lindsay Lohan for Ungaro).

For now, I’m slightly in love with Chanel. I know it’s horribly cliché to love Chanel but you just can’t help it; that Lagerfeld, he’s a genius.

At London Fashion Week Christopher Kane’s collection was described by Vogue as “deliciously pretty milkmaids”, last week at Milan Fashion Week D&G teased us with country style but, of course, these collections looked like warm up acts in comparison to Chanel’s surreal runway.

Karl Lagerfeld’s dreamlike show for Chanel included a custom-built Chanel barn (a reconstruction of the Hameau de la Reine, Marie Antoinette’s play farm at Versailles), with models emerging from between hay bales, three models frolicking in the hay…and obviously a turn by new face of Cocoon Chanel, Lily Allen.

Citing Marie Antoinette’s shepherdess phase as an influence, designer Karl Lagerfeld used the country-chic theme and designed woven bags with appliqué flowers, the raw-edged tweed that is the label’s signature and milkmaid-style high-heeled clogs, which may see a comeback for spring/summer 2010 as they were the dominant shoe for both the Chanel and Celine collections.

When asked about his inspiration, after the show, Lagerfeld told reporters: “I’m from the country, darling.”

“I hear all this talk about organic farming and the environment and things, and I’m all for it. But there must be a certain sophistication, so it’s not used as an excuse to let things go to seed,” he said.

Personally, I think the collection is cute, however it seems to have received mixed reviews, Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian wrote the collection was “more Carry On Up the Farm than Avenue Montaigne chic” and that the shape of the dirndl dresses “made even the skinniest of models look a little lumpy”

However, Chanel’s version of a roll in the hay was a pretty stylish affair and the collection was much softer than last season. The collection had black and white silk ribbons that were woven into tweed jackets with ragged edges, pale tan patchwork suede skirts and fluffy woven chiffon jackets that featured a touch of sparkle at the edge – and carried random strands of straw with them.

There were broderie anglaise jackets, which puffed at the shoulder and over the hips, and rusty orange wool suits with bronze buttons all down each arm. While miniskirts gave party dresses a flirty edge and the occasional Quaker-style headscarf reiterated the theme – though models pretended to use their Blackberries on their way around the barn as if to prove that these clothes were meant for the modern day.

Suddenly, Lily Allen burst through a trapdoor on to a catwalk and began singing her hit “Not Fair”; Allen looked lovely in her gold and black Chanel sequins and did a rather good job of proving that Chanel doesn’t only suit model figures.

Finally, Lara Stone appeared as the Chanel bride with a chiffon veil and two grooms (one of which I think was Baptiste Giabiconi) – all of whom fell upon each other in the hay as Karl walked past to bow.

Lagerfeld talks Lily

To say that I was surprised when I heard that Lily Allen would be the new face of Chanel Cocoon would be a bit of an understatement. I’ll happily hold my hands up and say I just don’t get her. Here’s this relatively pretty, outspoken girl whose debut video showed her as, frankly, a scaly. And now she’s the face of Chanel, one of the most luxurious fashion brands in the world. Well clearly Mr Lagerfeld saw something in her (and I can’t help but think that new BFF Ms. Moss helped) and who am I to question the genius that is Karl Lagerfeld.

With less than a fortnight before the new collection is launched in stores, Lagerfeld talks to Vogue about why he chose Allen. “I love Lily Allen,” Lagerfeld said of his choice. “She looks a lot like Gabrielle Chanel and she is a self-made woman. She is cool, young and extremely witty.” I can’t say I agree.

Allen, who last week became GQ’s Woman of the Year, modelled the luxury sportswear bags for a shoot with Lagerfeld himself. The collection that includes shopping, bowling and trolley bags, purses, wallets, toilet bags and clutches in a variety of colours means that Lily should have no shortage of arm candy for the new season.