Chanel Cruise 2019: Loveboat or Titanic?

“Rose is a rose is a rose,” famously wrote Gertrude Stein. “Cruise is a cruise is a cruise,” Karl Lagerfeld seemed to imply concerning the collection presented last night at the Grand Palais, where he dreamt up a nautically obsessed mise-en-abyme. A vintage, live-sized dreamboat, no less, specially constructed for the occasion, became the backdrop of a maritime collection, gingerly modeled on the faux pier. 

Chanel Cruise 2019 show in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR.

Right there, in front of the La Pausa boat (a reference to Gabrielle Chanel’s summer house on the French Riviera), models sported – you’ve guessed it – plenty of stripy sailor shirts paired with graphic wide-pant trousers.

Somewhere between Love Boat, Titanic, and Fellini’s E la Nave Va, the collection playfully twisted its own classics. Berets came in fluffy terry cloth and were worn XXL with round 80s sunglasses, discreetly winking both at Edith Piaf and LL Cool J. 

Tweed ensembles with balloon skirts showed a hint of a midriff, paired with white tights and sensible Mary-Jane sandals. Some came in bouclé knits, others in shredded denim, and combined with white Dad (my dad, at least) sneakers. 

The 1960s pop touch was contrasted by disco-ball-ish body-hugging dresses, sheer rhinestone embroided harem pants, not to mention plenty of gold buttoning and detailing. 

Last but most certainly not least, showmaster Karl Lagerfeld provided the ultimate “Instragram moment,” as the doors of the boat opened on the top deck and the man himself appeared saluting the crowd, the captain of this eminently couture crew. 

Chanel Cruise 2019 show in Paris. Photo: Courtesy of PR.

All this took place before the eyes of Margot Robbie, who recently joined the Chanel family, alongside muses Lily-Rose Depp and bleached mullet-sporting Kristen Stewart.

Suitingly, the show was followed by a dinner reception inside the boat, all done up in a crisp white 1980s-inspired interior, accompanied by the sound of French acts Corinne and Sébastien Tellier. 

What I initially considered a simple tongue-in-cheek take of the very idea of a cruise collection turned out to be a carefully planned reference to the house’s past: Gabrielle Chanel, in the early twenties already, imagined elevated sailor wear lines for her customers vacationing in Biarritz.

Today’s customer might be off to the Hamptons, La Réunion, Marseille …or simply going back to Cali, as LL Cool J once sang.

See all the looks from Chanel's Cruise 2019 collection here.