I’d transverse the planet to see a Chanel show if I had to. And that’s sort of not an exaggeration; so far this year, I’ve already lost my Las Vegas virginity to the French fashion house and watched as Karl Lagerfeld put a king back on the throne at Versailles. This week, it was another royal theme as the house of Chanel turned to the top of the United Kingdom for their most recent fashion show, which was a drop dead gorgeous tribute to the Scottish highlands. Backstage after the show, the words Lagerfeld used to describe it were simple: “Cruel romance.” The reference was both to the history of the venue, which was the place that Mary Queen of Scots was born and lived before her cousin Elizabeth had her beheaded. And also, Mother Nature, which, as if on cue, spit out heavy snowflakes in the warm whiskey-soaked moments before the show began.
“Lets tweed again,” Lagerfeld joked — referring to his use of the Scottish cashmere company Barrie knitwear, a recent Chanel acquisition — of a show that started in layers of knits and argyles and all manners of Scottish heritage dressing before wondering into a finale of cream colored dresses, each more fantastical than the next. But, Lagerfeld was quick to point out; he didn’t want a costume element to the show. (That explained the lack of kilts in the show, which many assumed would be a shoe-in. In fact,BAZAAR’s creative director Stephen Gan and I joked before the show that a good headline would be “Dressed to Kilt.”) Also of note: it was a heel-less collection. “It’s a stiletto-free collection. In the highlands, it wouldn’t be right. Besides, the flat is, to me, a form of overt sophistication.”
After the runway show, we were treated to an entirely different show, but on the same level of decadence. There were Scottish bagpipers atop a torch-lined wooden path that snaked to a sparkling tent filled with specially made tables and chairs. (I was told it took nearly two weeks to build out the venue, and they started heating the tents 10 days before the dinner to fight of the Scottish frost.) Following the five-course meal, there was a performance by Brit singer Jake Bugg, which I took in with the model Jamie Bochert, who was conveniently celebrating her birthday. The night ended on the dance floor – where even Karl took a turn. He reminded me that Coco Chanel, who was famously introduced to this neck of the woods by the Duke Westminster, wasn’t the first fashionable French queen. Mary Queen of Scots was too a queen of France for a time, though, he joked, it didn’t end so well for her. “But this is a good lesson: Be careful when you play with fire,” he smiled as the torches faded.
Captions, from top: The Kaiser flanked by Stephen Gan and Carine Roitfeld; one of the grand halls at the palace, with the largest fireplace in Scotland at the far end; Jamie Bochert, one of my favorite people ever, who was celebrating her birthday the same evening; some very pretty people: Jake, Poppy and Brad; the gregarious Andrea with a handbag made by her daughter, Charlotte Dellal, of the label, Charlotte Olympia; Brad and his son Hudson on the runway; one of the cream knit gowns at the end of the show, which were my favorites; bag pipers on the walk to dinner; Dorothea and Sara; Joanna Preiss and Virginie, the studio manager at Chanel who realizes Karl’s fantasies; a very well dressed four-legged fashion show attendant; me and Vanity Fair’s Jessica Diehl aboard the Brittania, Queen Elizabeth’s decommissioned royal yacht; Caroline and Anna, before the latter had a dance off, with herself; me and Aymeline having a pose off (I think we know who won that one); a last look at Linlithgow Palace