The Chanel Couture Show Was on a ‘Plane’

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Karl Lagerfeld acknowledges the applause of the audience after the Chanel Haute-Couture Spring / Summer 2012 Show as part of Paris Fashion Week at Grand Palais on January 24, 2012 in Paris, France. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Apparently the seating for the Chanel couture show, which walked in Paris this morning, was very limited because the stage was a plane. And as all of us commercial travelers know, planes are cramped places. How Karl Lagerfeld — who so memorably flew privately in the documentary Lagerfeld Confidential — knew that is a bit of a mystery. The seats were rumored in advance of the show to be "throne-like," or extra-wide, hence greatly limiting the number of guests who could attend, which is said to have upset many editors in the U.S. who were not awarded a seat on the Chanel plane, which was erected over the course of five days in the Grand Palais. (Though given Karl Lagerfeld's past Chanel stunts, like the real iceberg imported from northern Europe, one could be forgiven for thinking it was an actual plane that took off and flew around.)

The clothes the models wore vaguely referenced airline flight attendant uniforms.

"I didn't want to make it too literal, " said Lagerfeld backstage. "If you look at what air hostesses really wore back in the '60s, it wasn't that great".

Of course, the questionable tastefulness of a spendy couture show in These Economic Times will be acknowledged in the reports about the shows this week. But what's so curious about this Chanel show is that Karl managed to turn commercial coach air travel, a thing made so much worse by the crap economy for everyone who has to do it, into something glamorous that got people allegedly very riled up over not being given a seat. Never one to shy from controversy, whether it's giving Lindsay Lohan a "love slap" or dressing models in yellow face for a fashion show in China, Lagerfeld's work this morning might be seen as a little bit of flysploitation, capitalizing on that very horrible thing that the 99 percent has to endure if they want to get from point A to point B on a plane. Does he know the history of the shrinking, very un-thronelike coach seats? Of the once-free snacks that now feel like dreams? Of being burdened on layovers with luggage that one does not want to pay money to check, and then being forced to check your bag at the gate because the asses who got on the plane before you took up all the overhead space? The distress of getting sat behind a seat-back pocket bereft of a the required reading that is Sky Mall? Four-hour soundtracks of one crying baby? Judging by the footage of him on the plane here (at 6:30) and here (at 4:10), one might guess not.

See highlights from this morning's Chanel show, including some guests who looked like they couldn't believe they had to ride in coach for this show, in the slideshow.