In Paris, everything is just that little bit chicer. The pastry is flakier. The cheese is softer. The façades fancier. Even the beach is more beautiful. Soft sand runs in bouclé, a bake beneath wide-brimmed raffia, a stroll – sequinned parasol in hand, a perfect, cloudless sky. Of course, this beach was Chanel’s, and it was not on the coast of Basque or Normandy, but inside the Grand Palais in Paris.
“The beach came to Chanel this morning!” Sam McKnight exclaimed backstage. And it was true. Karl Lagerfeld wouldn’t go to the beach, rather, the beach would come to him. And that it did. The Grand Palais was transformed into an idyllic seascape, with faultless rolling waves (truly), a rickety boardwalk and sprawling sand.
A beachy vista imagined by Lagerfeld, it had all the truisms of Chanel – the tweed, the pearls, the satin bows – but treated with a little sand and salt. The cabin dress was appropriated into ‘robes cabanes’ (beach hut dresses) and sautoirs sat alongside fringed straw and cork soles. Minaudières took the shape of bouncing beach balls, flap bags came in terry towelling, even camera cases had a wicker update. Perhaps the most un-Chanel proposition of them all, however, was les pieds – bare and breezy, models sauntered barefoot on the sand, plexiglass heels in hand, until they reached the shaggy beach hut, where they slipped into beach-appropriate mules before stepping onto the boardwalk (a lovely touch, indeed).
And as always, Sam McKnight, Lagerfeld’s chief of hair, created the hair look for the 80-model show. “It’s loose but luxurious beach hair,” he said backstage, hair that mused on the jet-setting bombshells of the ’70s. You know the ones; the Talitha Getty’s, the Brigitte Bardot’s, the Sophia Loren’s, who would take their seaside secondment in Capri or Cannes. It was “rich beach hair”, the kind of hair you’d see on girls who lollop on sun lounges, raffia visor on, seashell minaudière by her side, who take their swimwear in the form of malliot not bikini. Also, importantly, the kind of girl who does not get her hair wet. Well, maybe just a little mist, to give it that ‘texture.’
Hair was tonged into periodic, loose kinks, then spritzed generously with Cool Girl Barely There Texture Mist and gently raked with fingers until it looked ‘beachy’ enough (for a Chanel girl). A moisturising balm was smoothed through the ends (this is Paris, not Bondi, after all), and softly pulled back into half-up-half-down ‘dos with loose tendrils, affixed with bedecked CC brooches and silk ribbons. Some models let their hair down (completely), whilst a handful of others – including Selena Frost – sported a web of intricate braids, all styles which were contrived by McKnight on the day.
It was French-girl hair told through a slightly sunnier lens, that despite its summery inclinations, remained refined and polished.
À la plage has never looked so chic.