Fashion shows have always baffled me a little bit, and after seeing how Chanel decorated its runway during its Spring/Summer 2013 show last week, that feeling of confusion stands. First, most of the clothes are completely unrealistic for the average person to buy or wear. (My fashionably-inclined friends tell me the top designers provide inspiration for retailers, who water down the styles and sell them to the rest of us.) Second, fashion shows seem to be all about the spectacle and spotting celebrities in the audience, rather than actually selling clothes.
That second point was reinforced during this year’s Paris Fashion Week, considered by most to be the grandest display of haute couture in the world. Chanel’s chief designer Karl Lagerfeld commanded that the cavernous hall of the Grand Palais be filled with near life-sized wind turbines. The turbines sprouted up through a runway that looked like it could have been made from solar panels.
Was this some sort of political statement? An indication that the fashion industry supports renewable energy? Probably not. “I started to sketch in St. Tropez over the summer and it was so hot I wanted some fresh air,” Lagerfeld told reporters afterwards. Still, he admitted that he has an affinity for modern architecture, and considers wind turbines to be a beautiful combination of utility and design. “Energy is the most important thing in life,” he said. “If I had to build a house, I would put them in the garden.”
Not surprisingly, the models tasked with navigating through this unusual forest of turbines wore outfits that demonstrated a light, airy feel. As Ecouterre pointed out, a child’s pinwheel, reinterpreted in organza and applied in the form of three-dimensional embroidery, was also a recurring motif in the Chanel show. As to where the 13 turbines are headed after Paris Fashion Week there has been no mention of their fate in the show’s reviews.