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Chanel SS14, Paris

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Paris, October 2013. Photos & Editing by Park & Cube. Le obviously.

Can we please just pause for a moment and ponder the man with the lone sunflower stalk? I was running ten minutes late and was trotting up a side road to the Grand Palais when I spotted him, leaning on a rake, looking with complete indifference. I stopped and watched him for a while, it was like an abstract performance; and what did the sunflower mean?

The invitation read Chanel Art… and unmistakeably the entire set was decked out in Karl’s faux art pieces: a bucket of bag chain, brightly painted canvases (canvasi?), a giant No.5 robot… The Grand Palais was transformed into a theme park of sorts, and the guests queued for their turn on the ‘rides’, for a #selfie with the art pieces. In fact, it wouldn’t have been surprising if it was possible to collect your photos at the end of the show.

The collection too was an explosion of textures, shapes and colour: pink nylon strips masterfully woven into the bouclé, two-sided mega bibs, paint-palette eye makeup, graffiti’d boy bags… and towards the end, a celebration of the medium, a tipping out of the craft drawer, so to speak – smeared-charcoal skirts, spray-paint stencilled backpacks adorned with colourful ropes… piled on all together of course, Chanel-style. There was no hidden philosophy in the title, it was, quite delightfully, a play with ideas that typically are associated with ‘Art’: galleries, paintings, 3D installations, fabric scraps, paint palette, art school, portfolio. All connected with a bit of Chanel magic and Karl fun – performed at the end by the man himself, who bounced the entire length of the Grand Palais and back, blowing kisses at the audience. I guess I went in expecting a quiz of abstract artistic expression, or a grand nod to some moment in art history, but came out reminiscing my peachy art-school days. I saw the sunflower again on my way out and it was just a happy sunflower. Nothing C’est nes pas un sunflower to it at all.

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Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2014

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Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 14 collection, Paris; See the entire collection here.

Always personally a step late on fashion news, from start to finish this show was the usual Marc, a succession of delight: glimpses of pink coming through the queue into the show, the French maids that brushed the staircases Finalewith ostrich-feather dusters, and the near-complete darkness behind the doors. Almost too dark – guests were thumbing their phones, not to join the tweeting, but in attempts to illuminate the corridor to the showspace. Then came the hotel porters with mini torches, briefly lighting up the invitations and informing left or right in French. To the left, there was a black fountain that spewed water, also black in the light; to the right, a black carousel, flanked by two wrought-iron elevators each guarded by two doormen. A trainstation clock shone through the black horses of the carousel, its light gently riding down a pair of double escalators under. Upstairs, the corridor was studded with dark hotel doors. It was all too strange and familiar, and yet in my blissful ignorance, was a delight to me.

The clock counted down 60 seconds at exactly 10:00am, and unseated guests scrambled to find a corner in the dark. The models walked out balancing a Stephen-Jones designed ostrich headpiece, donning a collection that swung from glittery showgirl, to punk, to sports (of the rugby sort). The occasional denim, and the barely-there thongs. The choreography took the models through each of the landmarks, striding through the Mongolian lamb rugs, a ride on the carousel, then up the escalators, down the corridor, and down the elevator. At on point it felt like a funeral, a thought I’d quickly brushed aside before training my long lens back on a dress. At the end, Marc Jacobs , and across the floor I saw Anna Wintour starting a wave of standing ovation across the first and second row. The news reached me only as the lights came back on and the seats were emptying, during a frustrated attempt to upload a tweet, and accidentally reading others. Then everything just clicked. I feel a little foolish to have experienced it all in complete oblivion, but on hindsight, I think it made it all the more special – Marc’s last show, a grand compilation of the past seasons, a final mix-tape of sorts and something to remember for years to come.