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What Really Happens At A Chanel Runway Show

What if we live-tweeted Chanel's Spring/Summer 2017 show? From a Chanel robot to 1980s arcade music, here's what went down at the Grand Palais on Tuesday morning.
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If there is no set, is a runway show still considered a runway show? Okay, ignore that – it was a very pathetic attempt at sounding philosophical. Among the many shindigs at fashion week, the one that will get people talking about even before it happens is almost always Chanel. They’ve got an amazing track record when it comes down to show sets and themes, after all. What is on Karl’s mind this season? Will there be freebies? Will I be able to snag a snazzy Instagram shot with the set? Will Lily Rose Depp become my next best friend? The invites, which arrive just two to three days before, usually provide a small hint that will spark a string of speculations, so it makes the experience all the more fun.

On Tuesday morning, all present at the Grand Palais were transported to a 1980s to early 1990s-style computer data centre filled with tech noises and plenty of plastic sheets, metal boxes and rubber wires to set the scene. Lucky for you, we were there to document everything just so that you can get a taste of it.


10:30AM
We arrive on the dot, but the main entrance to the Grand Palais is jam-packed with people. We head to the doors on the side – it is also full of people trying to get in. We figure it would be the same on all sides of the building, so we wait. Security is super tight.

 

10:50AM
Alas, our feet cross the threshold and we are past the guards. It is as we said before – shows almost never start on time. (Tip: Shimmy your way through the crowd, but don’t be rude about it. Find an open spot and stick to it, else you’re going to be stuck at the gate for a long time.)

 

10:52AM
We finally see the show space and it looks like a data centre from the 1980s to 1990s. Huge metal boxes with yellow and blue wires showing through plastic curtains. Unlike last season’s “Front Row Only” show, the space is tighter with all the seats stacked on the right. Trays of tape and wires are everywhere. Is that “COCO” we spot on the rolls of heavy-duty tape, or just a coincidence?

 

10:53AM
We get to our seats. The door gift for the season is a bottle of N°5 L’Eau, Chanel’s new fragrance recently fronted by one Lily Rose Depp. (She was also at the show, we later realised.)

 

11:01AM
The music begins! It is show time! At just 30 minutes past the planned start time! For a show as massive as Chanel’s, a half-hour wait is not too bad at all. The runway track is very Tron: Legacy meets 1980s arcade.

 

11.01AM
The first look hits the runway – a tweed suit worn by a…robot? The music is loud, but we can literally hear people go “Hnnnnnng!” at the opening model-robot. Show-goers all around are trying to get a good shot of the little cutie. We wonder if Chanel will actually put the robot helmet up for sale as a collector’s item. Hmm…

 

11.02AM
It becomes clear that a baseball cap, worn sideways, is Chanel’s key accessory of the season. Is this Chanel’s way of appropriating street culture?

 

11.02AM
The runway makeup involves contouring with bright pink-red blusher – called draping, apparently – and matching lips. Red eyeshadow is really something that people should be considering, because we think it looks pretty darn cool.

 

11.03AM
The towering Molly Bair makes an appearance, looking very in her element in a multi-coloured mini dress, matching jacket and cap. We’re getting hip-hop vibes now.

 

11.04AM
Negligee lace is another element to the collection, worn under coats and peekaboo skirts. Also, we only just realised that the runway is going two ways with models coming out from both ends of the space. A little slow on the uptake, we apologise.

 

11.05AM
The alabaster-skinned Sarah Brannon steps out in a silky laser print shirt and lace slip. Guys, we have our print of the season. We are really getting that 1980s-to-early-1990s arcade feels now.

 

11.06AM
A black lace midi dress is paired with a black cap. Our next chill day outfit, check! Several models sport open-back jackets and tops with costume jewellery hanging down the back.

 

11.08AM
An elaborate white blouse with big ruffled sleeves and black pipping is serving us Shakespeare. Though, on second thought, the black details look more like wires. Clever detail or coincidence?

 

11.11AM
The last look – a soft white robe worn over a slip-jumpsuit hybrid – goes back in on our end. The show is almost over and it has only been ten minutes, thanks to the two-way runway. Less waiting time in-between looks, less runway miles for the models to cover – it works!

 

11.12AM
The final march begins, in two directions again – side note: Chanel-regular Lindsey Wixson has a very straight back – and the show is over. We hear applause from the other end of the show space, but we don’t see good ol’ Karl. It is a very long runway, after all.

 

11.14AM
We take a small minute to explore the set, snapping pictures of anything that isn’t crowded with other show-goers. Chanel is the one show were people stay to hang around and explore the show space. We didn’t get photos with the set, unfortunately.

 

11.16AM
We turn from Chanel’s blindingly white space to the glaring sunlight outside the Grand Palais. Done and dusted, and right on schedule! Two-way runways, the ultimate time saver. Think about it.

 

Photos: YOYOKULALA.com

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