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Chanel Haute Couture Spring Summer 2014 Paris

The elegant Chanel couture set conjured up a retro 1930s nightclub vibe this season. Its cool pearl grey bench seating, glass and chrome finishings and graphic striped walls looking as if it they had been transported directly from the golden era of the Stork Club. And that any minute Jean Harlow in a liquid silk gown and fur stole would show up on the arm of Clark Gabel.

It was a sensation that was reinforced when the stage slowly revolved into view. However, instead of Cab Calloway it was the shaggy French pop star Sébastien Tellier, and his orchestra that sat front and center, framed by two giant crescent shaped Art Deco staircases.  Then in a heartbeat, when the first model began her decent down the stairs, the story of this show changed dramatically.

Instead of moving slowly with poised grace in her one-of-a-kind couture dress  the model bound quickly down to the ground with a vitality that could only be explained by one thing- her shoes.

Karl Lagerfield had given the ultimate urban accessory- sneakers- the couture treatment.

Models skipped, hopped and spun along the catwalk with an infectious joie de vivre that had a youthful freshness to it. Their techno tweed and lace trainers, sometimes shimmering with sequins or tricked out in pearls, serving them well as they pranced about in front of a delighted audience.  

That freedom of movement was enhanced by Lagerfeld’s clever choice to keep a large portion of his luminescent pastel looks above the knee. His focus on a corseted midriff, its leitmotif hourglass shape accentuated by rounded crop sleeved tops and curvy short skirts, also smartly accented the athletic energy of the collection. And if the sporty message still hadn’t come across then some silver quilted knee and elbow pads and tweed fanny packs did the trick.

When the show moved into eveningwear Lagerfeld proved that just because this collection was sporty it didn’t mean that style and substance went out the window. The craftsmanship of the house’s haute couture artisans was easy to appreciate in the iridescent spun sugar column gowns that closed the lively presentation. Although, even Lagerfeld couldn’t sell the sneakers when worn with these sublime designs.

But the daywear was really the story of this show. And with Raf Simons at Dior also focusing on this sense of freedom, movement and lightness of being, there can no longer be any doubt that winds of change are blowing though haute couture.