Fashion Notes: True Religion

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Karl Lagerfeld & Anna Wintour

I don’t mean to harp on religion but it’s hard to ignore the subject what with the Jewish High Holy Days taking place simultaneously with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. And of course, with today being Sept 11th, it’s hard to ignore all the talk of religion surrounding the controversial mosque being built right near Ground Zero. Regardless, I happen to think there is a bona fide link between religion and fashion; and for many, fashion, if not shopping, IS a religion. In addition, there are more than a few fashion figures – editors, retailers, stylists, designers who actually believe they ‘walk on water’ (I won’t name names but you know who you are).

Left: Lookonline editor Marilyn Kirschner in Chanel jacket and jewelry

Speaking of which, there are many who literally ‘bow’ to the ‘god’ of Chanel, easily the most prestigious fashion house on the planet, and many of the faithful have long ago deified its creative leader Karl Lagerfeld. About 200 of some of the chicest women on the planet including Anna Wintour, Daphne Guinness, Lauren Santo Domingo, Susan Fales Hill, Gigi Mortimer, Caroline Sieber, Amy Fine Collins, Alexandra Lebenthal, Amanda Harlech, and many more, turned out yesterday at a luncheon in honor of Karl Lagerfeld’s Fashion Visionary Award from the Couture Council of FIT, which was held smack dab in the middle of Lincoln Center at Avery Fisher Hall, as if to officially impart global glamour to New York Fashion Week.

Dr. Valerie Steele in Chanel necklace

It was a glorious Friday, and many in attendance were literally bedecked (and I mean head to toe) in Chanel, much of it iconic, as if to pay proper ‘homage’. There were Chanel jackets, Chanel shoes, Chanel dresses, Chanel coats, Chanel pearls, Chanel camellias (sometimes worn as headpieces), Chanel quilted bags with chains, Chanel silver and gold chains. Needless to say, many of these items were decorated with the familiar small or oversized ‘CC’ logo, and to the uninitiated, it might seem as though they were wearing symbols of a cult or religion (much like a crucifix or Star of David). While I knew this would prove to be a wonderful spectacle, I have to say it far exceeded my expectations. It was quite a sight.

Veronica Webb in Chanel blouse

Simon Doonan was the Masters of Ceremony and he wasted no time in his observation that Karl’s contributions to fashion are “inestimable” (is there even such a word?), and “beyond description”. He went on to say that KL has “managed to stay hip (utterly hip), relevant, and central to fashion”. In addition, “He is completely witty, brilliant in six languages, is the Oscar Wilde of fashion and is absolutely quotable”. He said there were too many memorable Lagerfeld quotes to mention but managed to single out a few that stuck in his mind. He recounted a story that when Karl was 4, his mother asked him what he wanted for his birthday. His reply? “A valet”. On being knocked off? “Flattery is not the right word. I don’t want to be flattered. I want to be right”.

Chanel woman in Chanel camelia & trimmed jacket

Dr. Joyce Brown took the podium next and looked around as she deadpanned the assembled crowd, (who were enjoying a wonderful lunch of warm chicken breast, rose or white wine, dessert and coffee) with the observation: “I’d say this is a successful event”. (No kidding. I’d go a step further. Without diminishing the talents of the previous designers, or the ones to follow, let’s just say that I cannot imagine another designer who the Couture Council can honor, who will have elicited such a feverish frenzy of excited followers.)

Chanel suit with camelias and Chanel dress

Beautiful actress Diane Kruger walked up to the podium wearing an ethereal Chanel dress and said that Karl’s name is synonymous with “creativity and vision”. She described Karl as her friend, mentor, and a person who has “truly changed” her life, and spoke of his intelligence and knowledge of history. She then officially awarded him the Fashion Visionary Award. Karl, a study in pale gray (jacket, pants, tie), stepped up and in his usual manner, was short, quick, to the point, and hard to understand. (I think he said he is only interested in “the next show” he is doing).

This was followed by raffle of 5 items including an iconic bag and several pieces of jewelry including a watch; each costing well into the 4 figures (Simon Doonan was quick to list the price, lauding the house of Chanel for their “generosity”.) Upon leaving, each guest received a Chanel shopping bag with a large bottle of the classic, iconic Chanel No 5. And how fitting, since Karl was the recipient of the 5th Couture Council Award. I cannot wait to see who is number 6.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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-Rhonda Erb
Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb writes about fashion, travel and lifestyle from a New Yorker’s perspective in Better Bets. A self-confessed Instagram addict, her work has also appeared in such publications as Runway Magazine. Follow her at: Instagram: @betterbets Twitter: @betterbetsny tumblr:

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