Haute couture is quite, quite unlike pret a porter in more ways than I can count. The most obvious being the amount of customers. (For some houses, we are talking mere hundreds.) The manner in which the clothes are shown often differs too.
Although Chanel show on a breathtaking scale at the ready to wear collections in vast, echoing spaces to what seems like a supporting cast of thousands, and have shown couture in equally large spaces, this season the haute couture show took place in a moderately sized grand salon on rue Cambon, where the Chanel mothership is based, with just three rows of pale grey spindly chairs with pink upholstery for the assorted private clients, select press, fashion editors, and friends of the house (read celebrities) who make up a typical couture show audience.
Outside on rue Cambon it was paparazzi mayhem. (As I walked from my hotel around the corner, I mentally sharpened my elbows and my vertiginous Bionda Castana heels specially in preparation for breaking through the crush to the entrance.)
That bunfight is because inside there are many, many celebrities:
Plus Jerry Hall, Alexa Chung and more… (I’m a terrible reporter: I never recognise anyone. I sat next to Yasmin le Bon once for an entire show in London and only discovered who it was when a friend on the opposite front row alerted me through a Tweet)
But sod the celebrities. This is why I was there:
Look after look of ravishing workmanship, which proved yet again that haute couture can be relevant and desirable in the 21st century, with Mr Lagerfeld’s streamlined shapes and clever re-workings of traditional couture lines.
As the show drew to an end, the mirrored arch drew into the wings & the curtain flew up:
to reveal the full set piece finale:
Karl Lagerfeld, with Kristen McMenamy who closed as the traditional couture bride, blowing a kiss to the audience
And then I fought my way out through the massed camera crews and shiny people to the calm, crisp world outside, tiny Chanel carrier swinging from my fingers, containing a bottle of eau de cologne, our going home present.