Karl Lagerfeld Opened His Pre-Fall Show in Shanghai With a Film That Included Yellow Face

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Yesterday Chanel showed its pre-fall collection in Shanghai. (Because they are Fancy, they call it the Paris-Shanghai Métiers d'Art Collection.) This was Karl Lagerfeld's first trip to the city, and he noted the show, in which models wore rice-paddy hats, wasn't about the real China, but his China:

“It is about the idea of China, not the reality,” Lagerfeld told WWD on his first trip to Shanghai. “It has the spirit of, and is inspired by, but is unrelated to China. It is not authentic like a Peking Opera or something.”

Elaborate, as Chanel's pre-fall efforts tend to be, the show was staged on a custom-buit barge with a glass front that faced the famous skyscrapers of Pudong. The boat didn't actually sail anywhere during the show, but it did kick off with a special film in which Coco Chanel fantasizes about going to sixties China and muses about making a collection inspired by a Mao suit. But there's more:

In a potentially controversial move, Europeans in yellow face play some of the Chinese characters. Lagerfeld defended this as a reference to old films. “It is an homage to Europeans trying to look Chinese,” he explained. “Like in ‘The Good Earth’, the people in the movie liked the idea that they had to look like Chinese. Or like actors in ‘Madame Butterfly’. People around the world like to dress up as different nationalities.”


First blackface, now yellow face. Looks like political correctness is out. Models on the runway, however, were not in yellow face. For highlights from the show — including Baptiste's every look (leather pants! furry coats! vamping!) — see the slideshow.

See the full pre-fall collection.

BEGIN SLIDESHOW