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See the Elaborate French Brasserie Chanel Built for Its Fashion Show

The French fashion house fitted the Grand Palais with café-style tables, padded red booths, three full-size bars, and even a revolving door for its March 10 outing.

By Jim Shi March 20, 2015, 7:48 AM EDT

Photo: Olivier Saillant

What better setting for “real clothes for real [French] women” than their natural habitat: a Parisian brasserie. So imagined Karl Lagerfeld, and the event producer Villa Eugenie, for his March 10 Chanel show at the Grand Palais. The setting was even dubbed Brasserie Gabrielle, a nod to the French fashion house's namesake founder Coco Chanel and her birth name.

And what a setting it was.

To accommodate 2,600 guests, the brand built seven rows of bleacher-style seating encircling a center runway that housed 100 tables, 100 chairs, and three full-size bars—not to mention a bar-like setup specifically to house photographers. In lieu of actually tiling the runway, a printed canvas mimicking a Parisian brasserie was laid down.

V.I.P. editors and celebrities were seated at a series of white-cloth-covered banquettes that rimmed the runway and were served cappuccinos, champagne, and pastries by models dressed as waiters.

The immersive experience took about six months to realize, down to the classic flower arrangements of palm fronds and beetroot red flowers that adorned each table.

From runway to reality, the decidedly French-theme collection—a continuation of what Lagerfeld masterfully showed during January haute couture—playfully threaded itself in the clothes and accessories. To wit, skirts that wrapped and tied with attached tapes, resembling old-fashion aprons. The classic Chanel camellia boutonniere, meanwhile, was reimagined as a doll-size place setting of stacked plates.

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