In this new weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: A crippling ice storm in Dallas was no match for Chanel's annual traveling fashion extravaganza, which this year made its destination the sprawling grounds of Fair Park this past Tuesday night. The big-as-Texas blowout came with three equally jaw-dropping events, each in a different, custom-designed setting so realistic they looked as if they had always been there: First, a neon-lit drive-in movie theater (seating was in 74 vintage convertibles and trucks, or on bleachers behind them) for a shortish film directed by Karl Lagerfeld; next, a rustic-looking wooden rodeo for a cowboys-and-Indians runway show that paid tribute to the history of Texas; and finally, a roadhouse saloon party with two-step dancing lessons, a mechanical bull bucking into the wee hours, and Hot Chip on stage. Much later, waiters dressed as ranch hands offered up snack-size bags of Fritos Pie, encountering nary an upturned nose.
And, oh, this being Texas, there were lots of stars: Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart, China Chow and Lily Collins, who made the trip for Chanel despite flight delays, diversions, and icy roads. “It’s worth it,” Fanning said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind experience.”
The main attraction showcased the work of the artisan houses acquired by Chanel over the last decade, including glove makers, costume jewelers, and embroiderers, known as the Métiers d’Art collection. Lagerfeld chose Dallas for this show, he said, partly because American journalists and U.S. stores like Neiman Marcus were the first to support Coco Chanel's postwar comeback in the 1950s. Also, Texas offers infinitely fertile ground for inspiration. So tweeds, there were a few, but they were backup acts to glittering dresses made of tiny red, white, and blue star-shaped sequins, fringed ponchos, leggings with trompe-l'oeil cowboy boot patterns, quilted handbags shaped like saddles, leather holsters armed with bottles of Chanel No. 5, buttons in the shape of sheriff's badges, and even a couple of feathered headdresses for a somewhat controversial effect.
“It’s everything since the beginning of the state of Texas,” Lagerfeld said. “I don’t go too much into the cowboy style. That’s too easy. There are no cheerleaders or Stetsons.”
Why It’s a Wow: Lagerfeld’s film, called The Return, went a long way toward explaining the connection between Dallas and Coco Chanel, who is practically resurrected onscreen by a captivating Geraldine Chaplin (puffing on cigarettes deliriously as her work is rejected by the French press). And if Lagerfeld’s collection, besides being an over-the-top spectacle, played into certain Texas stereotypes (the bigger the hair, the closer to Karl), the Texans did not seem to mind.
“He is going to make a fortune,” said Becca Cason Thrash, a Houston fundraiser known for lavish entertaining. “Every single person that has a house in Aspen, Jackson Hole, or Montana is going to buy something. This has been the most exciting thing to happen around here since sliced bread.”