PHOTOS: Everything You Need To Know About Chanel’s Spring Show

If you’re planning on taking a beach holiday with Karl Lagerfeld anytime soon, don’t count on packing light. For starters, you’re going to have to save some space for what may be the world’s largest beach bag — an already-infamous quilted number suspended between a pair of hula hoops. And then there’s the headgear. For Spring 2013, Chanel offered wide-brimmed sun hats crafted from clear vinyl, fitting, perhaps to shade yourself from the rays streaming down on a runway crafted from faux solar-panels.

We’re dubious as to the UV protection offered by the material — but then we’re also dubious about the functionality of Chanel’s luxury skis, and that doesn’t stop us from coveting them. One thing that definitely did serve its purpose, however, were the 12 wind turbines that the house had set up in the atrium of the Grand Palais, the latest in a long line of grandiose installations that have run the gamut from clusters of amethyst stalagmites to a gilden lion the size of a small house (or, we suppose, a palatial NYC apartment). They spun throughout the show, and reportedly represented only a portion of the 20 that had been ordered to provide atmosphere for the spectacle.

Taking in the show were Kanye West and Jennifer Lopez, the latter of whom lit up the front row with her adorable tot Emme Maribel in tow. They were joined by the usual coterie of chicer-than-chic filles and femmes: Lou Doillon, Inès de la Fressange, Ellen von Unwerth, and Julia Restion-Roitfeld, along with Chanel ambassadors Poppy Delevigne, Leigh Lezark, and Caroline Sieber.

The turbines and panels pointed to themes of lightness and energy, a refreshing change after what has been a very dark spring, at least as far as Parisian designers are concerned. Models breezed into the cavernous hall, first in roomy skirt suits encrusted in gobstopper-sized pearls, followed by a parade of cropped jackets paired with slim bottoms corseted to the ribcage. Fabrics were waffled, tech-y, tweed (of course), and, in the final exits, embroidered with three-dimensional florals. The solar panel motif also proved surprisingly versatile, finding its way onto slope-shouldered skirt suits and glitzy cocktail dresses alike. We hope the irony won’t be lost on the wearer if they find themselves packing the pieces away for a jaunt on a gas-guzzling yacht.

That’s not to say there weren’t some questionable moments, as well — that back-to-front denim minidress brings back unfortunate memories of middle school DIYs — but Karl just wouldn’t be Karl if he didn’t give us something at which to raise our eyebrows.

WWD called the show “a symphony of fabulous clothes in a collection packed with ideas” and offered a pointed dig at Hedi Slimane‘s press relations drama:

“His ability to refresh without convulsive reinvention may make him fashion’s ultimate modernist. But he’s got some pretty old-school ideas about the workplace. When it comes to his collections, thematic secrecy? No. Preview? No problem. Sound bite? He’ll give you 30. Banishing longtime front-row types to the second row, or disinviting those who have written ill of him? Nope.”

Style.com‘s Tim Blanks, meanwhile, questioned the “slightly schizophrenic quality” of the collection, but concluded that “in the end, the path of excess did lead to the palace of wisdom, or at least the clarity of dressy white pieces appliquéd with flowers that looked like candy wrappers. Sweetness prevailed.”

And as for Cathy Horyn, who has had quite a turbulent few weeks herself, the critic praised the textural symphony of the collection, and the “huge, light-hazy stage, framed by the minimalist towers, the spectrum of colors — royal blue, pink, aqua, red, sage, lavender — blurred into random drops, much as your eye picks out the bright hues in crowded streets.”

Check out the show below and judge for yourself:

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