This Week's Wow: Karl Lagerfeld Takes Us to the Desert for Another Over-the-Top Chanel Event

In this 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: There were loads of major Wow contenders this week in the human resources department of fashion, with a welcome dinner for Diane von Furstenberg's new artistic director, Michael Herz, and the naming of a new artistic director at Sonia Rykiel, which nabbed Julie de Libran, a key designer who previously worked with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. The Cannes Film Festival got off to a glamorous start thanks to Nicole Kidman's turn as Princess Grace, and Ralph Lauren was mingling with royalty at Windsor Castle with a dinner thrown in his honor by Prince William.

Here in New York, I also got a kick out of seeing the crystal creations of this year's finalists for the Swarovski Awards for emerging talent (part of the CFDA Awards) at a party at Kirna Zabete on Tuesday. Those designers were asked to create objects for an auction to benefit Free Arts NYC with some cool results—seriously, check out the goods on, where Irene Neuwirth's crystal-covered skateboard and Rosie Assoulin's crystal sand art sculptures had each racked up more than a dozen bids by Thursday.

But the real winner of This Week's Wow involved a different kind of sand art thanks to Karl Lagerfeld, who presented his cruise collection for Chanel this season in Dubai. ("Desert Chic," WWD called it.) His globetrotting fashion shows have taken editors from Versailles to Singapore to Dallas and inspired a sort of wanderlust among other designers. All that traveling and set-building tends to take the focus off of the clothes, but not so with Lagerfeld's excursion to the desert, according to some of those on the ground. Our own style director, Melissa Rubini, was there, and says, "Chanel made perfection seem easy with this production. The whole experience matched Dubai's philosophy: Do it first, do it bigger, do it better."

Why It’s a Wow: You've probably heard some of the details already, from the performance by Janelle Monáe to glittering Chanel harem pants and the gold-quilted handbag shaped like an oil can (pictured above), which some people found disturbing. But what had so many people talking about this show was the clothes—Lagerfeld seems increasingly willing to break the mold of Chanel with collections that simultaneously broadcast his atelier's savoir-faire and his own irreverent wit. Basically, he's making the mood at Chanel as light as a tweed jacket, and that's attracting a huge new fan base around the world. In Dubai, he showed shoes with illuminated soles, like those favored by kids in their sneakers, though their prices may be more suited to Saudi royalty.

"Some highlights," Rubini says, "were the colorful and fluid prints, the shoes with neon lights and of course some amazing black dresses in the finale with metallic embroidery that screamed, 'I'm ready for the red carpet.'"

Learn More: A Lagerfeld video interview and Michel Gaubert's soundtrack for the show are among the highlights under the news section of And stay tuned for more cruise-collection madness with a Louis Vuitton show set for Saturday in Monaco, followed by more and more fashion shows in New York through June.

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