Fashion 89 : Lagerfeld Shows Off the Long and Short, but Where’s Fun?

Times Fashion Editor

A little bit of everything turned up at designer Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel show. There were very long skirts, very short skirts and an in-between length that ends just above the knee. Jackets, too, came in all lengths and shapes, many of them down to the thigh and worn only with knitted leggings.

But for all the diversity, something was missing.

The fun was gone.

Chanel shows are usually a highlight of these seasonal fashion outings because they’re so filled with witty ideas, playful accessories and a kind of vigor that has translated into a whole new, younger group of customers for the venerable old fashion house.

But this time, Lagerfeld was almost preachy in his insistent presentation of short with long styles, one following right after the other, or in tandem. And with the exception of those ubiquitous gold buttons, the usual zingy accessories were absent, too.

Lagerfeld has, for some reason, sobered up for fall. His jackets are still works of art, this time in solid colors such as blue, black, purple, red and green with all-around edging in contrasting colors or embroidery.

His long skirts, to just a few inches above the ankle, are flat-pleated all around, or very slim, with gold buttons all the way up one side. (Models wore the skirts partly unbuttoned to reveal lots of leg.)


With Flat Shoes

Many outfits were shown with flat shoes and either dark hose or hose that matched the shade of the clothes. A perky red suit, with knee-top skirt and hot pink blouse, was shown with matching red stockings and red, low-heel pumps.

Lagerfeld’s fall blouses are of white satin with black rickrack or black velvet collars and plackets. Long, black velvet, bias-cut skirts were shown with these.

Even his dress-up clothes were surprisingly sedate, of shiny, pale satin or sheer black georgette, often with black velvet bodices that seemed too bulky for the sheer skirts below. Backstage after the show there was none of the usual idolatrous pandemonium, a good indication that much of the audience was not intrigued.

In general, this has not been a good season for French designers. The two best-received shows in Paris so far have been by an Italian, Romeo Gigli, and a Japanese, Issey Miyake.

Designer Sonia Rykiel, a French native, didn’t fare much better on Sunday night.

She continues to do her wonderful, body-hugging, short sweaters with long, knit skirts and wide-leg pants. She has added hooded jackets with full backs, knit knickers and knee-length shorts, along with rhinestone trimmings on some styles. Her fall colors are grape, gray, black, yellow, blue and green.

Rykiel’s children’s clothes in black and red velour were modeled by adorable tots who brought the audience back to life and received the loudest applause of the evening.