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20 Ridiculous And Awe-Inspiring Chanel Runways

Karl Lagerfeld once imported an 265-ton Swedish iceberg for an 18 minute show.

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1. Spring 2014: The Gallery

Christophe Ena / Via

Karl Lagerfeld presented his art-inspired collection in front of 75 unique pieces he made for the show, some already with red stickers beside the name as if they were sold.

2. Fall 2008 Couture: Gigantic Pipes


Having to be craned into the Grand Palais, these tubes were reminiscent of organ pipes, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the stuffiness of traditional French couture.

3. Spring 2009: 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel / Via

Designers like to cite "streetwear" as proof that they're keeping up with the times, so what better way to dramatize the concept than blowing up the iconic storefront like a movie set. In Karl's words, "You have a show, you make a set."

4. Resort 2008: Chanel Line


For the season literally invented for retailers to squeeze more clothes out of designers during the lull between Fall and Spring, Lagerfeld commandeered a Santa Monica airfield to wheel in a Chanel jet filled with models ready for the afterparty in the hotel lobby.

5. Chanel Fall 2013: World Domination


We're international, baby. An enormous globe peppered with glowing markers for Chanel's many boutiques around the world offers a not-so-discreet reminder that Chanel is the most profitable privately-held luxury house in the world.

6. Fall 2012: Earth A'Plenty


Chanel and "classic" often get thrown together in the same sentence but what could be more classic than the earth? Crystals erupted in the Grand Palais as a backdrop to the Czech Cubist-inspired clothes, dark, sparkling and uncompromising.

7. Spring 2011: Jardin à la Française

Chanel / Via

Inspired by L’Année Dernière à Marienbad, an enormous garden complete with fountains and a live orchestra playing an instrumental of "Bittersweet Symphony" made for an experience not unlike a cloudy walk through the Garden of Versailles.

8. Fall 2008: The Carousel

Karl Prouse / Getty Images / Via

Like most luxury companies, Chanel makes big money on flashy accessories that are often loaded up on the runway (see the hula-hoop bag, gun pumps and art school portfolio). For this show, the embellishment was on the carousel in order to draw focus towards the impeccable clothes.

9. Spring 2012: Under The Sea


Coco herself popularized the string of pearls, inspiration taken to its extreme in a show that looked to the Earth's oldest creatures under the sea. Reinterpreting the pearls as belts, earrings and embellishments, Karl draws on the most organic of modernist sensibilities.

10. Spring 2013 Couture: A Secret Garden

Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Getty Images / Via

A forest amphitheatre constructed in the Grand Palais played host to an ethereal cast of impossibly romantic clothes and nicely enough, two brides in the traditionally bridal finale.

11. Spring 2013: Winds of Fancy


Windmills on a solar panel runway? A comment on climate change might seem obvious but the ultra-modern set riffed more on lightness and energy than the earth's declining natural resources.

14. Fall 2014: Supermarket Coco


An impossibly-chic supermarket for impossibly chic people. Over 600 individual products were made to stock the shelves of this futuristic superstore, many of which were "purchased" by models during the show.

15. Fall 2010: The Lion

Chanel / Via

It might be Coco's astrological sign, but the lion is also a central motif in the Chanel's original Paris apartment, currently maintained in tribute to the legendary designer. A protective paw over the pearl—another Chanel icon—provides a nod to the house's French couture heritage.


Francois Guillot /AFP / Getty Images / Via

When designers do all-white collections, they are usually implying some kind of return to basics. Stéphane Lubrina and a 40-person team hand-cut over 7800 delicately cut paper flowers for over 4800 hours of combined labour to decorate the set.

17. Fall 2011 Couture: Place Chanel

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A neon Place-Vendome was meant to evoke the digitally constructed maps widely available on smartphones, but the real treat of this nighttime show was the shimmer of the lights as they reflected off the newly-wet concrete of the runway, a city post-shower. The tower in the middle was topped with a glass sculpture of the house's namesake.

18. Fall 2015: Boulangerie Chanel


More than just a place to smoke and drink dainty coffee, cafes were historically a meeting place for the literary-inclined. Karl erected his own version replete with table service and cocktails for his Paris-inflected show.

19. Spring 2010: "Faux Peasant"

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A playful romp in the hay referenced Marie Antoinette's "faux peasant" aesthetic when she would attempt to ingratiate herself with her subjects in the Petit Trianon. Midway through the show, Lily Allen appeared to perform "It's Not Okay", as models stomped around in twee knitted dresses paired with clogs.

20. Resort 2011: A Feverish Saint-Tropez Dream


Bathed in the light of the golden hour, this harborside presentation at Saint-Tropez had everything from boats to a hunky man on a motorcycle. Paired with an original film Lagerfeld made for the occasion, the show captured the best of Chanel's most decadent pleasures.

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