Karl Lagerfeld created a megastore—un grand magasin—under the sign of the double C, for the Chanel Fall 2014 collection. The shelves of his extraordinarily detailed set were stacked with more than a hundred thousand items, brazenly advertised at 20 or 50 percent more. No bargains in these aisles.
It was entrancing to see the fashion world’s great and good transformed into kids in a candy store by Lagerfeld’s spectacle. An epic celebration of consumerism was also an epic satire of it. An instant analogy was Andreas Gursky’s gigantic 99 Cent diptych. (Lagerfeld was kicking himself that he hadn’t thought to invite Gursky to the show.) As a piece of conceptual art, as a critique of pop culture, as a fashion show, it offered the juicy meat of an academic thesis.
Lagerfeld helped to make trainers the talking point of the Couture season. Here, he built a collection from the ground up on the footwear. “They had to continue,” he said bluntly. “If you want to look really ridiculous, you go in stilettos in a supermarket.” The very notion was antithetical to the guts of a collection that was just about the most democratic Lagerfeld has ever offered for Chanel. “That’s exactly what I wanted to show,” he said with an emphatic stab of a finger.
Couture’s definite corseting inserted itself into the collection, but there was also a raggedy-hemmed smock dress and a black velvet jumpsuit, and a prevailing sense that Lagerfeld has no interest in offering directives. With today’s overwhelming, irresistible extravaganza, he was saying that fashion’s a supermarket. So you might as well shop.