“There was lots of fantasy,” wrote Tim Blanks in a review of Karl Lagerfeld’s A/W94 collection for Chanel; “fake fur boleros and skirts, which made even willowy supermodels look like fat poodles.” Indeed, the designer had transported his women to an après-ski lodge in cyberspace, where fun fur – or “no fur”, as Lagerfeld coined – in shades of bubblegum, micro-mini hemlines and bulbous silhouettes reflected the mid-90s penchant for an alternate, virtual reality.
As they walked, the models performed for the crowd in ways fit for the era: Yasmeen Ghauri and Stella Tennant dramatically mimicked talking on a primitive cell phone; Ève Salvail wore a powder pink tweed suit, her iconic buzz-cut and tattooed head providing a contemporaneous androgyny. Swinging about their hips were plastic water bottles chained in holders made from 2.55 handbag straps, and oversized goggles bearing the double CC monogram were playfully used as accessories-cum-props. When asked if this collection was practical, Lagerfeld simply answered: “No. There are many easy pieces in it, but for me it is beyond practicality”.
The subsequent lookbook was no different in its surreal and wintery sensibility. Art directed by Jean-Paul Goude and styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, the women jumped joyously like cardboard cut-outs against a white backdrop, or stood posed in neon pink fluff glowing with a bright yellow aura. In one particular image, Trish Goff, wearing cut-out Chanel monogrammed glasses, looks into Lagerfeld’s lens, her face framed with monochromatic fuzz. Two fingers bear the words ‘Coco’ and ‘Chanel’. If ever there were a photograph to sum up Karl Lagerfeld’s eternal ability to modernise the codes of Gabrielle Chanel, this could be it.