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Chanel resurrects Lagerfeld's punk princesses

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Paris (AFP)

South Sudanese model Adut Akech was the star of Chanel's teeny-weeny Paris haute couture show Tuesday which featured two "punk princesses".

Designer Virginie Viard said she drew inspiration from her predecessor Karl Lagerfeld for the one-minute 22-second film, no more than a teaser for its autumn-winter collection.

The French designer, who was Lagerfeld's right-hand woman until his death last year, has already signalled that the days of his "pharaonic" extravaganzas are over at the label.

But even for her, this was minimalist.

Paris fashion week has been forced online for the first time in its history by the coronavirus, with labels showing short films of their clothes instead.

While Viard's collections so far for the iconic French house have been marked by soberness and simplicity, this time she channelled the decadence and "shimmering opulence and jewellery" of the Paris nightclub scene over which Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent presided in the late 1970s.

"I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of Le Palace at dawn," she said, referring to a legendary club in the French capital.

"With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel. Karl would go to Le Palace, he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed up women, who were very eccentric too," Viard added.

- Tears of joy -

French designers Alexis Mabille and Stephane Rolland presented the nearest thing to real fashion shows so far, both using one model to show all their looks, while fellow Parisian label Aganovich created a stop motion film with its garments with artist Erik Madigan.

Rolland used the Spanish model Nieves Alvarez, one of Saint Laurent's final muses, to show his black and white collection inspired by pop art.

Full of long and languorous looks, he told AFP he wanted to create "cocoon forms that were protective and generous" as well as glamorous.

But perhaps the day's most poetic offering was from the Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato who instead of teasing a collection, asked people from around the world to send him old white shirts they had been attached to which he then recut and transformed.

One Japanese woman gave him her dead mother's shirt, which like a kimono she wanted to hand down to future generations of her family.

Nakazato talked to each of his clients by video link about the history of their shirt before reimagining it, and then sending it off to them in a box.

The designer, who wears his studio white coat throughout the film, said the idea of the charity project, called "Face to Face", was to give people "courage and hope... at a time when our ability to meet people physically is limited".

Having drawn out his clients' stories, some were brought to tears by his creations and others were so awed by the "work of art" that they screamed with joy when they opened their box.

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