Softness was something uppermost on my mind early on Tuesday, January 27. This was the morning of the Chanel Haute Couture show in Paris’ crystalline Grand Palais, and a very many things there were of remarkable suavity (and some things not so much… like the big foam rolls they pinned under our hair that had the appearance of giant croissants in the region of the cerebellum).
The couture collection itself was soft in color, one sigh-inducing, eye-widening, 73-look gradient of pastel tones of pink, cream, coffee, white, and blue. What wasn’t soft about these miraculous garments was their texture: many were embroidered with jewels, stones, and sequins, some with metal, and others even with wood! The dress I wore, for example, while mostly comprised of soft and floaty pink chiffon, was decorated along the neck, sleeves, and hem with… were those feathers? From afar they appeared to be, but in actuality I was wearing wood chips— infinitesimally thin wood chips that were skillfully painted and cut to resemble pencil shavings. They appeared as delicate and weightless as if they were actual plumage, even if they didn't feel that way.
But wood chips and hair croissants aside, it was decidedly a morning of soft things, including:
- sod on the runway, (grass made the walking a bit bumpy but looked pretty between the planks of bamboo laid down on what was the lawn of a dreamy, minimalist country retreat);
- zen instrumental music to compliment this eco-garden theme;
- Cara’s dog, which she brought backstage before the show, and which found the aformentioned ecological garden lifelike enough to pee on, I heard;
- mystery catering— those pudding-looking things? It took us a few proddings to figure out that they were basically solid whipped cream in little cups with a raspberry at the bottom (and a dead bug, in the case of my second cup! This didn't stop me from having a third, though— a little extra protein never goes amiss...)
- the pale sunrise sky, visible from horizon to horizon in peachy segments through the iron and glass roof of the palace as hair and makeup preparations were underway.
But the softest item in all the wide Grand Palais that day was by far Karl Lagerfeld’s cheek. I discovered this just before leaving when all was finished and I tentatively mustered the courage to thank the iconic designer in person before walking out (it only took me about ten minutes to talk myself into entering his vicinity, but when I finally did he most cordially put out his cheek to be kissed— both cheeks, rather, in the European custom). Smoother than honey, silkier than a baby’s palm, creamier than a cloud, it’s bewitching texture was at once surprising and exactly what I should have expected. More than what is said or seen or even accomplished in these days of travel, it’s such spontaneous moments as this of complete immersion in the present that I hope to remember for many, many years to come.
See the first few minutes of following video for details and making of my dress: