Karl Lagerfeld might have renewable energy on the brain. (Or not. It’s hard to tell with a man who once shipped a 265-ton iceberg from Sweden as a runway centerpiece.) For his Spring/Summer 2013 show on Tuesday, the Chanel chief was all about le spectacle, filling the cavernous hall of the Grand Palais in Paris with towering wind turbines and a tiled catwalk that evoked the appearance of solar panels. But was it a political statement? “I started to sketch in St. Tropez over the summer and it was so hot I wanted some fresh air,” Lagerfeld told reporters afterwards. Translation: non.


Don’t give up the ship just yet, however. It turns out that Kaiser is a fan of the windmills and their “beautiful modern architecture.” “Energy is the most important thing in life,” he said. “If I had to build a house, I would put them in the garden.”

“It’s all about volume and lightness because [they usually] don’t go together,” Lagerfeld said.

The alternative energy schtick extended to the clothes themselves, from the grid-like beadwork on an electric blue mini-sheath to transparent Perspex hat brims that recalled the spinning motion of propellers. Jawbreaker-sized faux pearls studded windowpane tweeds like Dalek bumps—a 21st century nod to the boxy, buttoned-up aesthetic Coco Chanel built her empire on.

Playing with the concept of air and wind, Lagerfeld sent down fluttery black dresses in sheer silk chiffon, pneumatic blouses with bouffant mutton-chop sleeves, and airy mesh-lined cotton trousers. “It’s all about volume and lightness,” Lagerfeld said, “because usually volume and lightness don’t go together.”

Another recurring motif? A child’s pinwheel, reinterpreted in organza and applied in the form of three-dimensional embroidery.

+ Chanel