The concept of the front row is understood even by those with just a whisper of an interest in fashion. While music venues have their moshpits and politics has its front bench, fashion has the Frow. A catwalk front row is a microcosm of all the narcissistic peacocking that exists in any industry. But here on the Frow, fashion’s top table, everything is laid bare for all to see. It appears that Karl Lagerfield is a designer who finds this never-ending fussing over seats an absolute delight. Why else would he do away with the row formatting at the Chanel show and make every single seat – all 3,500 of them – a front row? Certainly not for democratic reasons (that seems unlikely for a man at the helm of a billion-euro label selling bags with four-figure price tags) – it’s more likely for the insider fun of it.
Staging a show which was titled Front Row Only with the theme itself being catwalk show is both meta and standard for the German-born designer, who likes to fool around with fashion and its tropes. This season, his Chanel extravaganza was more in the concept than the execution. Gone were the fancy sets (see thesupermarkets and brasseries of catwalks past) and instead he constructed a fancy fashion salon with cream walls, carpets and giant mirrors. It was a salon presentation on steroids. A mashup between the brand’s Coco Chanel heritage with Lagerfield’s pop-art spin on it.
If the set represented a meeting of fashion minds, so did the clothes. The models wore flattened boater hats – much loved by Coco herself – with strings of pearls in cartoonish dimensions. The flat boots with tweed suits were the sort in which a Duchess might feed the chickens of her country estate, while the tweed iPad covers were more akin to an international airport lounge. Emoji-printed shoppers – complete with peace V signs, cat faces and flowers – were a typical move from the designer to get cash tills ringing. The fingerless, quilted leather gloves said Lagerfeld, while the giant trapeze trench coats said Coco in her Scottish estate.
The show was at its best when at its most modern. Top was a black leather hooded anorak with quilted sleeves, hinting at the Parisian rush towards a more street approach. Less country chic, more street scally is what the Frow is getting excited about.