Experimental feature

Listen to this article

Experimental feature

Picture this: 900 Texas socialites mixing with British It girls and glamazon models. Throw in some old convertibles, a mechanical bull, extraordinary French artisanship and one fast-talking German-born designer, and you will have an idea of what Chanel’s Métiers d’Art show in Dallas, Texas, was like.

In the Lone Star state, where bigger is better, designer Karl Lagerfeld staged a spectacle in the city’s Fair Park that left even the “Big D” agog. Guests included actresses Lily Collins, Dakota Fanning, Lauren Hutton, Zoë Kravitz and Twilight star Kristen Stewart (pictured below), who was unveiled as the new face of Chanel.

The Dallas event kicked off with a 1950s-style drive-in and the premiere of Lagerfeld’s film The Return. Starring Geraldine Chaplin as Gabrielle Chanel (Coco’s birth name), it depicts the designer’s 1954 comeback, which was panned by the French but embraced in the US. “It explains the importance of America to Chanel’s career,” said Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel.

Guests snapped selfies behind the wheels of the vintage automobiles, and clambered over car seats to find their place to watch the film before engaging in a high-heeled stampede to witness the catwalk show. There, models in Chanel jackets with western saddle-like shoulders, furry arm chaps, tights with cowboy boot trompe-l’oeil, and somewhat controversial native American headdresses, paraded down a straw-lined runway hung with red, white and blue bunting, Texan and French flags, and banners bearing Chanel’s double-C logo.

Lynn Wyatt, wife of oil billionaire Oscar Wyatt and Texas’s reigning social queen, announced: “Karl, you can wear it in Gstaad, you can wear it everywhere.” (Presumably she was referring to the catwalk styles, not her Chanel couture sequin-embroidered gown.) Also in attendance was Gene Jones, whose husband Jerry owns the Dallas Cowboys football team. She was dressed head-to-toe in Chanel with a striped jacket and black trousers, sitting with her similarly Chanel-clad daughter and granddaughter. Diane Lokey Farb, a powerful Texas property developer, was resplendent in a Chanel organza little black dress, with diamond camellias at her ears, throat and wrists.

After the show, dress-ogling gave way to western dance lessons and mechanical bull riding, finery notwithstanding. Lagerfeld, Wyatt and others not taking part in the line-dancing, such as editors Ingrid Sischy and Stephen Gan, sat in a cordoned-off area, as a dancing coach barked orders at, among others, television presenter and model Alexa Chung (in jeans, white shirt and long Chanel bouclé coat); fashionista Elizabeth von Guttman in a Chanel cream jumpsuit, and photographer and former actress Amanda de Cadenet, in pink tweed jacket and skirt. Model Laura Love somehow managed to hop astride the mechanical bull for a ride despite wearing a long white Chanel cotton piqué dress.

The bull riding experience was not for everyone. “That was the most horrible thing I have ever done in my life,” said model Poppy Delevingne after her turn on the beast, pulling her black-and-white print, thigh-baring jacket down over her tights. Perhaps she should have paid more heed to Coco’s famous words: “Elegance is refusal”.

Get alerts on Style when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article