Chanel shines under starry summer night sky

(Photo/LaPresse)

PARIS – When it comes to putting on blockbuster shows, the sky is literally the limit for Chanel. For its fall-winter 2011-12 haute couture collection, the deep-pocketed French label recreated a life-sized model of Paris' Place Vendome jewelry Mecca, complete with a starry night sky.

The Chanel display usually takes place in the morning, but to add to the nighttime feeling of Tuesday's show, it was held at the unprecedented hour of 10:00 p.m. That meant a fatigued fashion crowd, which had been working largely nonstop for the previous 11 hours, traipsed into the venue,  Paris' glass and steel Grand Palais. Models circled the set's centerpiece, a life-sized version of the towering column that presides over Place Vendome, in cropped jackets with shirt-dress hybrids with sculptural bell-shaped peplums, which were layered over hobblingly tight pencil skirts. In dark tweed embroidered with Swarvoski crystals, the ensembles twinkled like the faux night sky of the set.Translucent, thigh-high boots and boater hats completed the looks.

The evening wear also hewed closely to the same silhouettes. Lean, ankle-length tweed dresses were embellished with trompe l'oeil contrast piping ? in scintillating crystals ? that mimicked the brand's best-selling skirt suits.

It was a collection that looked likely to appeal to the growing couture clientele in Asia, who tend to want Chanel clothes to be instantly recognizable as such, particularly when they're shelling out five figures for a dress.

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