Inside Chanel's Supermarket-Inspired Fashion Show

The French fashion house turned the Grand Palais in Paris into a branded store where models pushed shopping carts and browsed shelves of products.

Photo: Reuters

It was arguably his most inspired runway reimagining to date. And, for a designer who has recreated an airplane and an iceberg, Karl Lagerfeld’s supermarket set for his Fall/Winter 2014 Chanel show was an ambitious undertaking.

Produced by longtime Chanel production partner Etienne Russo of Villa Eugénie, the fashion show transformed the Grand Palais in Paris into a 139,930-square-foot labyrinth—an ode to Andy Warhol’s Pop Art—stocked with hundreds of thousands of everyday grocery products, all relabeled with Chanel. That meant ham came as “Jambon Cambon,” tea offerings that included “The Little Black Tea,” and paint colors that were numbered and strategically named—1903 Bleu Confection, 1914 Gris Jersey, 1954 Jaune Etienne.

Of note: all products were Chanel- and Mademoiselle-centric. Although Coco Chanel’s silhouette and various incarnations of her name appeared all over the place, not a single item referenced Lagerfeld by name or by his famous likeness.

The space was a cart-pusher’s delight, bright white and shiny with primary color accents. Those who arrived early were allowed to walk through the aisles, more than a few stopping for selfies with CC-branded soap towers, boxes of handkerchiefs labeled Les Chagrins de Gabrielle, and, best of all, a hardware department that featured a chain saw with a real Chanel chain. There were bottles of Eau de Chanel mineral waters, and even the collection’s press photos were presented in a giant Chanel-branded matchbox.

To quash any who might criticize the spectacle as a waste of resources and foods, Chanel publicists did note that all real food was distributed to various charities following the show while most of the packaged goods (empty packaging upon closer inspection) will be used for Chanel store window displays this fall.

After the show finished, Lagerfeld’s voice came over the P.A. system, cheekily announcing: “Dear valued customer, the Chanel store is closing. Please pick up complimentary fruit and vegetables as you leave.”

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