Suddenly everyone’s talking about feminism. Emma Watson gave a speech to the UN about it, Beyonce invoked the word at the VMAs, and Lena Dunham tackles it in her new autobiography. And now, today, Karl Lagerfeld addressed it in his Chanel show. But his feminism for spring — shown on an elaborate Paris street set inside the Grand Palais, the house’s regular venue — was less about the bra-burning kind, more about the equal-pay-for-equal-work kind. Gloria Steinem paved the way in the 60s and 70s with Women’s Lib, but these days women are finding, or at least seeking, empowerment in the workplace.
In the sprawling and celebratory collection, Lagerfeld showed his looks on groups of models, rather than the single-file beeline format. The first section popped with bright floral prints in suggestive shapes reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings and mixed with various familiar tweeds, plus a new all-tweed pantsuit. Toting little gold-chain bags that said ‘Make Fashion Not War,’ rather facilely, these girls were a nod to hippie chicks. Next came a section of demure army fatigues, a reference to women’s newfound role in the military, followed by tidy skirt suits and cocktail dresses in glittering paillettes resembling cobblestones that were not as trite as it sounds. The last section consisted of pinstripes in countless permutations, some worn with flouncy white blouses, others shellacked with a stiffness worthy of Wall Street. In the end, the Chanel woman had become a power-brokering CEO.