* Brand's global footprint stretches far and wide
* Asymmetrical lengths, flickering fabric mark show
* Military coats, simple black dresses high on drama
By Alexandria Sage
PARIS, March 5 An enormous globe rotated slowly
in the middle of a circular catwalk at Chanel's ready-to-wear
fashion show in Paris on Tuesday, with flags bearing the Chanel
logo marking where the luxury brand operates stores.
Only Chanel's creative director Karl Lagerfeld knows if the
globe was a sign of global expansion or a geography lesson for
the well-heeled crowd at his show, many dressed in the Chanel
label that appeals to a global audience with money to spend.
Top luxury brands like Chanel - which is private and does
not disclose financial information - have seen their sales
propped up by growing demand from Asia, in particular from
China, and from the Middle East and Russia.
Chinese shoppers account for one-fourth of all luxury
purchases globally and last year surpassed U.S. consumers to
become the world's top spenders on luxury goods, according to
consulting firm Bain & Co..
The head of Chanel's fashion division, Bruno Pavlovsky, told
Reuters last November that the brand planned to end 2012 with 10
boutiques in China and 182 internationally and
it appeared the fashion house was on track with this plan.
"I can be very happy and pleased because when I started
there were three or four (stores) 30 years ago, so it's not that
bad," Lagerfeld, 79, told Reuters after the show.
Chanel is one of the few global brands that can sell a host
of auxiliary products like handbags, fragrance and cosmetics
that help build buzz and feed awareness of the brand and can
notch up operating margins of 50 percent.
Accompanied by classical music that morphed into Daft
Punk's "Around the World", models at the Chanel show took a turn
around the world, quite literally, wearing long grey and navy
plaid coats with upturned collars or military-styled coats with
contrasting panels of peacock blue.
As if not to alienate one half of the world's population,
Lagerfeld allowed a solitary male model to join the models'
journey around the globe.
The Fall/Winter 2013-2014 collection was heavy on black, as
is typical for Chanel, but Lagerfeld added flickering bits of
metallic weave into suit fabrics to add sheen.
Hues of rose and navy wore their way through the collection,
as did thigh-high boots and fuzzy cloche caps in electric
turquoise and baby pink.
Lagerfeld is praised for his ability, season after season,
to rework a limited wardrobe of classic ideas developed by
founder Coco Chanel - beautifully cut slim jackets, wool knit
suits, cascades of pearls and black suits.
This time around Lagerfeld opened up knee-length A-line
skirts at the front, adding a shorter panel for coverage that
added geometric interest and a peek-a-boo feel.
But some of the stand-out looks were the simplest. The drama
in a modest black wool dress came from a ruffle at the collar
and above the elbows, while a black velvet dress with a short
flouncy skirt was accented by wide cuffs and a petticoat peeking
out in pure ivory.
Lagerfeld himself did a turn around the circular catwalk to
end the show. Might he have noticed, with one last glance at the
globe, that Antarctica is yet to conquer?
"There's space left," he said.
(Additional reporting By Johnny Cotton, Editing by Belinda