PARIS — A hundred years ago, legendary Coco Chanel opened her first boutique in the Normandy seaside town of Deauville. Today, they number 300 and Chanel spans the globe.
For fall-winter 2013-14, Karl Lagerfeld celebrated this century's skirt-suited success story in an incredible Paris collection that had journalists gawping at an enormous globe right under the Grand Palais exhibition hall's glass roof.
Dotting the sphere were 300 Chanel flags, each representing a boutique.
"The spirit of the show was Chanel's globalization," said Lagerfeld.
But the show was surely also a celebration of the German-born designer. He celebrates three decades at the creative helm this year, during which he's overseen the transformation of the house into a truly global empire.
"I can be very happy... When I started we had three or four (boutiques) 30 years ago," said Lagerfeld, standing underneath Africa. "But it's not an ego trip."
The show's 79 varied looks brimmed with ideas, classic and new, and showed that the designer who turns 80 this year is still a creative force to be reckoned with.
Models, including Stella Tennant, walked around the circular globe runway sporting stylish new winter concepts in tones of blue, gray purple pink and black.
Zippable leather leg sheaths — like leggings that start at the thigh and ends at the ankle — were warm but allowed thighs to be exposed. And coat silhouettes were cut away squarely in the middle of thighs so legs are visible even on those cold December days.
"It's romantic. I loved the coats," said actress Milla Jovovich, from the front row. "It's early 20th-century Coco, but he's made it uber-modern."
Chained black biker boots also made it fresh. Yet some great pink knitwear looks and revamped classic skirt-suits ensured the core clientele weren't left behind.
At a combined age of 180, it looks like there's no stopping either Lagerfeld or Chanel.
"Look," he said pointing at an empty part of the globe. "There is still space left."