Chanel: Forever in blue jeans

Chanel is usually known for its classic and timeless yet inspiring pieces. At Paris Fashion Week, Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld displayed an edgy spring 2008 collection, Nuits d’Été (Summer Nights). Emerging on a runway set in front of a gigantic black bow, the models looked like presents being unwrapped. These gifts were elegant as expected, but Lagerfield added a bit of surprise with his choices of materials, colors, and combinations.

The last thing the fashion world expected was a show proclaiming American nationalism. The colors red, white, and blue all screamed “God Bless America” throughout the evening. Lagerfeld found inspiration from the wealthy American expatriates Gerald and Sara Murphy, whose parties on the French Riviera created a social circle for the Lost Generation artists of the 1920s.

The show began by showcasing denim, an American tradition, but Lagerfeld’s designs were far less conventional. Models strutted with denim jackets and bikinis paired with high, silver metallic boots. IMG model Heidi Mount sported a denim trench coat with red and white buttons on the collar. Marilyn model Lily Donaldson’s high-waisted flare pants were paired with a sleeveless top and the famous Chanel pearls, creating a look appropriate for both a movie premiere or a weekend sailboat trip.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the ankle purse, an invention that seems perfectly suited to the new crop of roguish celebrities — like Lindsay Lohan, the star of Chanel’s fall 2007 campaign. The purse is a small leather square that sits on the ankle, similar to a blood-alcohol monitoring device. We’ve seen Gucci popularize the waist purse and Coach the wristlet; Lagerfeld wants you to now imagine a woman at the club bending over to take out her lipstick, powder, or credit card.

From black, flowing organza gowns and striped jackets to patent leather bags, Chanel’s show remains true to the brand, but trends like the ankle purse and denim bikinis push innovation to the forefront. Chanel maintains an individuality in its clothing that is sure to be around for many years to come.