As with all Métiers d'Art shows, "Paris Cosmopolite" was expertly choreographed, with every detail as delicately observed as the silk-rose garlands that adorned the models' heads. The show was staged in three parts, using every inch of the hotel's ground-floor salons, while guests dined off gilt-edged plates and sipped champagne before a jazzy musical score announced the arrival of the models. Cara Delevingne led the pack in a classic 1930s tweed suit in cream and gold, with pink roses in her hair and gold tango shoes on her feet. Lily-Rose Depp, the 17-year-old daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, followed shortly after, in a shimmer of gold, shiny white lace-ups and an expansive smile.
The mood was saucy and exuberant: models picked their way around the tables, swinging to the music and bumping into each other en route; tango dancers spun them around. The silhouette — and spirit — took its cue from the 1930s, but this beau monde had a pronounced 21st-century accent: Delevingne planted kisses on guests' cheeks; Pharrell Williams made a cameo; Georgia May Jagger, Mick's daughter, wore gold knickerbockers and a veil.
If the current climate is uncertain, here were moments of pure escapist bliss. Never mind the models moved so fast the clothes appeared a blur, the show was a completely immersive experience, all played out before its chief architect, the 83-year-old Lagerfeld, who sat at a table in the main salon for the late-night finale. As compelling a character study as the woman whose legacy he has now spent more than 30 years working to protect, Lagerfeld twirled a few tango steps, but didn't offer me an audience post-show. Instead, I spoke to his design interlocutor, Amanda Harlech, the raven-haired creative consultant and collaborator who has worked alongside Lagerfeld since 1996, to explain his motivation.
"It was about the 1930s, and that happy, joyous time when Chanel was in the Ritz and part of everyone else's salon," she said. Harlech was sitting in a fairy-lit glasshouse from one of the Chanel-installed pergolas in the hotel garden. "It was about coming back to Paris: cream, white and gold, like the sun shining on Place Vendôme. It was about French blue, blue denim and dance shoes with a perfect heel that will pitch the shoulder and give you a feline grace. It was about observing the old world through the prism of the new, where a bomber jacket might be worn over a lace gown. It was about a womanly allure, and — yes — it was about the Eiffel Tower," she said of the bejewelled-embroidered icon that decorated polka-dot tulles and tweeds.