It was the show of the fall 2014 runway season.
Browsing the Coco Flakes, Jardin de Gabrielle canned peas, No. H20 Eau Minerale and Cambon jambon, I was reminded of
And fashion's infiltration of the culture has only continued to grow: a record-setting Michael Kors initial public offering, a style blog star performing on Broadway, First Lady Michelle Obama cutting the ribbon at the
Fashion needed to be taken down a notch. It was time to put down the platinum card, take a deep breath and get some perspective.
That's what Lagerfeld gave us with his supermarket sweep. He played with the ubiquity of fashion in pop culture and the sanctity of Chanel as a luxury brand valued at more than $10 billion. When it came to accessories — the addictive salty snacks of the luxury diet — some models at the Grand Palais carried Chanel chain-link shopping baskets, and others had heavy Chanel padlock necklaces chained around their necks. He was poking fun at our insatiable appetite for luxury and feeding it at the same time. Signs on the walls didn't post discounts, but price hikes of "+30 percent" and "+50 percent."
And Lagerfeld wasn't the only one winking at fashion's feeding frenzy during the fall shows.
For several years now, streetwear labels Brian Lichtenberg, Ssur and This Is Not New have been parodying luxury brand names and logos as symbols of status and wealth on slogan T-shirts, casual hoodies and hats ("Homies" instead of Hermès, "Ballin" instead of
London designer Anya Hindmarch also turned the ordinary into the extraordinary. Expanding on her handbag hit from spring, a $1,595 riff on a Walkers potato chip foil packet made using 3-D design technology and Italian metalworking craftsmanship, her Counter Culture fall collection included a series of clutches and totes emblazoned with Kellogg's supermarket icons, Frosted Flakes' Tony the Tiger and the Corn Flakes clucking cockerels among them.
For those who don't want to be walking billboards for Kellogg's, McDonald's/Moschino or Chanel, the fall offerings also include an alternative diet of understated fashion. Newly freed from his post as artistic director of mega-brand Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs went back to basics in his namesake collection, a palate-cleanser of spare-looking tunic tops and leggings with a futuristic flair, some with swirling bands of beading or undulating waves of chiffon bringing to mind the spare Western landscape of Georgia O'Keeffe country.
Michael Kors brought back the rich hippie look with haute slouch wear, including culottes and longer-length skirts anchored by chunky, nondescript clogs.
Designers seem to want to reach women who have had their fill of fashion's never-ending checkout counter, who don't necessarily want to be recognized, labeled or photographed for a style blog. Call them the "normcore" crowd, the Generation Z kids raised on Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and Lorde's "Royals," or today's answer to the 1990s antifashion movement.
Fashion is poised for change, just as consuming and shopping are changing. Some industry experts predict we could be entering a post-brand era. (Perhaps the hyper-commoditized Chanel show was meant to suggest a tipping point.)
There are countless studies that suggest that millennials place less emphasis on ownership and more on experience (which could be why many luxury fashion brands are entering the travel business).
Sharing, not shopping, is increasingly part of the culture, whether it's on
Other new platforms are letting people into the design process. The website Tinker Tailor lets customers customize luxury apparel from 80 designers, including
With today's renewed enthusiasm for customization and self-expression, in the future we may all be designers, if only for a Warholian 15 minutes. And big brands may no longer be at the top of the food chain.
Adidas just started offering a new service that lets shoppers emblazon sneakers with their own patterns, using an Instagram customization app. Print All Over Me is offering a similar service for apparel, and NailSnaps for nail decals. Three-dimensional printing marketplace Shapeways is already assisting producers of millions of user-designed items, and
If we are all designers, why shouldn't we all be our own brands too? Welcome to the era of Me-commerce. And for the record, I'll be calling my perfume Booth No. 5.