PARIS (Reuters) - Fashion changes as quickly as the wind, and maybe that's what Karl Lagerfeld had in mind on Tuesday at Chanel, where enormous wind turbines greeted guests at his spring/summer 2013 show in Paris.
But with the floors of the expansive Grand Palais made to resemble solar panels, one might have thought the prolific German designer was instead making a statement on going green.
"I started to sketch in St. Tropez over the summer and it was so hot I wanted some fresh air," Lagerfeld explained after the show.
Whatever the reasoning, Lagerfeld presented a wide-ranging readywear collection that occasionally incorporated synthetic fabric, but one in which classic Chanel looks using nubby wool, tweed and pearls were reworked for warm weather - all without one camellia in sight.
Jennifer Lopez, wearing a cream lace thigh-baring dress, was surrounded by a phalanx of cameras in the front row, where rapper Kanye West and model-come-actress Laeticia Casta also held court.
"It's so chic, it's so French, it's like a monument today," Casta said of Chanel, which has managed to keep its fashion clout and mighty branding power under the watchful eye of Lagerfeld more than 40 years after the death of founder Coco Chanel.
The first look down the runway was, unsurprisingly, a little black suit, but its kicky leather skirt imparted an edgy flair and Chanel's beloved pearls, surrounded by rhinestones, dotted the boxy jacket in a whimsical polka dot pattern.
A semi-sheer synthetic ribbed fabric was worked into slim black trousers paired with short-sleeved bolero jackets with pearl buttons, or used for body-hugging minidresses worn with cropped knit jackets.
Lagerfeld worked the solar panel pattern into various tweeds and into a bold graphic in red and blue that popped on sweaters and jackets. Stunning in its simplicity was a column dress cut mid-thigh with a severe straight neckline that shimmered from tiny beads in twilight blue, silver and black.
But, always curious, the designer played with the concept of air and wind, presenting floaty black dresses in sheer silk chiffon structured by a quilted panel bodice and adorned with tufts of multi-colored fabric that fluttered like feathers.
More classically Chanel was a slim black evening gown with exaggerated Peter Pan collar and white cuffs. Its puritan simplicity fell by the wayside when the model moved, exposing a leg-baring split up the front and a shimmery fabric that lent elegance and sparkle.
Lagerfeld may have been day-dreaming in St. Tropez of a pleasant, cool garden when he sketched the closing dresses in the collection, columns of white in a cotton and linen netting fabric elaborately embroidered with peonies and ivy vines.
Accessories were big and bold, whether the sunhats with broad brims that resembled wheels, the chunky lace-up heels, or the faux-pearl chokers whose beads resembled Christmas ornaments.
After the show, Lagerfeld - wearing a candy-cane stripe cravat and signature fingerless gloves - was asked what his secret was.
"There is none," he replied, looking perplexed. "Work."
(Additional Reporting by Leona Liu, editing by Paul Casciato)