Chanel A/W 2015. Photo credit: Kim WestonArnold /

Champagne, croissant, and fresh melon at 10:00 AM? Sure, you’re in Paris; why not indulge a bit?

Indulgence was prevalent this morning at Gabrielle Brasserie, a full-scale, fully functioning, seated service French Bistro built within the Grand Palais specifically to accommodate Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel women’s ready-to-wear presentation. I’ll spare you the hyperbole about ostentation and excess. If anything, this season’s set was rather understated compared to those of recent memory. Like the clothes walking between the rows of tables, it was the attention to detail that was impressive in the set; the polished wood, the long white aprons of the servers worn to a uniform length, male supermodel Baptiste Giabiconi serving up mimosas behind the bar. At the end, there was no parade with shopping carts or protests with models carrying placards. Instead, everyone, models included, sat down and placed their order with Lagerfeld picking up the tab.

Understated elegance has been such a strong undercurrent to this Parisian season that it has times bordered on being insufferably boring. Not every house has the extensive history to support going back and quietly re-working the catalog. Fortunately, Chanel has the perfect history for doing just that and no one complained one bit to see classic Coco Chanel silhouettes coming down the runway. Were they updated in any way? Of course they were. Metallic threads were probably the most noticeable change. Not that entire pieces were done in metallic fabrics, mind you. Rather, single broad threads were simply woven here and there into loose tweeds,  giving them a more contemporary and more colorful look.

Tweeds and tartans dominated the day, updated to a more contemporary look to be sure, but undeniably a call back to Coco’s days in Paris. Even the headbands in frequent use invoked that historic Chanel look from the 40s and 50s. Karl gently modified collars, updated fabric and color blends, moved some buttons around, but overall did precious little to Coco’s basic designs.

What changes we saw were subtle. Bow-tie quilting on shoulders and sleeves. A sweater tied around the neck with a pouch in back the perfect size for carrying a book. Cropped and flared denim pants and medallion coin belts almost gave a casual feel to some of the looks if one totally ignores the price tag. Coats were significant, both those quilted and those with feathered fringe, but overall it was the classic looks that won the day.

And why the name Gabrielle? Why, that was Coco’s given name, didn’t you know? And she loved dining in the Parisian bistros. So the bistro plate Assiette clutch that everyone is going to be talking about would have suited her perfectly

Perfectly understated.

But certainly not boring.

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