It was blue-sky thinking for Karl Lagerfeld, as he treated guests to a luxury jet-set experience in Chanel's spring-summer collection on the second day Tuesday of haute couture week.
The wet Paris morning failed to dampen the mood outside the imperial Grand Palais, as guests waited excitedly to see the inside theme — always a closely-guarded secret. The "Cocos" — as one fashionista called Chanel followers — were led nervously down a space-age passage.
There were gasps as they reached the catwalk: a life-size jumbo-jet reconstructed complete with luggage lockers, walkways and even a Champagne trolley.
"Are we jetting to New York?" one woman asked.
On the runway, signature Chanel skirt-suits were given a retro airhostess makeover with wide bateau collars in pastel colors. There was a distinct feel of the 1960s — the glamour days for air travel — with one embroidered silk short dress in pale blue with geometric band features on the collar, sleeves and low waist.
It was as if stiff-suited Karl Lagerfeld had finally decided to relax into the flight as soft, floaty floor-length silhouettes replaced last season's more fitted, shorter and architectural look.
But the artistry behind the clothes proved the mile-high couturier had not put his feet up for long: a palette of over 150 different shades was used, with meticulously embroidered silk in dazzling blues and grays — the colors of the sky.
Raglan balloon sleeves complemented hourglass party dresses in sparkling petrol blue. It provided a much-welcome dash of glamour in a collection watched by cocktail-sipping guests quite obviously enjoying themselves.
Speaking backstage in the reconstructed cockpit, Lagerfeld, in his traditional shades and powdered hair, said that blue was used because it's an optimistic color.
Revolutionary the show was not, but the Chanel brand is definitely flying steady with reason to be excited about the future. A strong clientele, and robust business mean that like other couture-producing labels, they are bucking the downtrend in a gloomy financial climate.
Some watching the show called the collection bold but respecting Coco Chanel's iconic codes.