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Schoolgirl Crush

Has Karl Lagerfeld been visiting a few tony private schools or, say, catching some key episodes of "Gossip Girl"? Perhaps so, because on Tuesday, he went for the youth vote at Chanel with a spring couture collection of abbreviated looks featuring...

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Has Karl Lagerfeld been visiting a few tony private schools or, say, catching some key episodes of "Gossip Girl"? Perhaps so, because on Tuesday, he went for the youth vote at Chanel with a spring couture collection of abbreviated looks featuring those fabled jackets. Here, one of his jeunes filles in a short, braid-trimmed gray suit.

There's nothing quite like fashion in the round, as the curved shapes in Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel and Giorgio Armani's Privé collections showed.

Chanel: Guests arriving at the Chanel couture show at the Grand Palais on Tuesday were hit with a very clear sign: The stage featured a soaring — as in 66 feet high — stone-colored classic jacket complete with double-C buttons and braid trim opened just enough at the bottom for the models to exit. Clearly, this would be a collection that centered on that most glorious of house standards. And indeed it did, as Karl Lagerfeld sent out a bounty.

There was another message, too, in the rotating circular stage, because curves and arcs were worked into the clothes in myriad ways. Yet the real news wasn't about jackets, nor a particular cut to the clothes, but an unmistakable out-with-the-old vibe. Perhaps inspired by a flock of new, girlish clients — real ones, such as twentysomethings Jade Lau and Hind Hariri, who is said to be the world's youngest billionaire [see Class of '08, page 7] — the show beckoned unabashedly to the sweet bird of youth, her mom's specs apparently already safely on file at the Rue Cambon. The most obvious bait: schoolgirl-short skirts, and ballerina flats with everything. The approach made sense, but it also made for mixed results. Certainly it provided some delightful viewing — who doesn't love an ingenue in a pretty dress? — but too often at the expense of Chanel's typical aura of haute chic.

Still, there were some beautiful clothes including — listen up — real day clothes: a pale tweed coat fastened with a brooch; a charming box-pleated salt-and-pepper halter dress with a matching jacket. Throughout, Lagerfeld worked in several side-draped skirts that made for some of his most womanly looks, if not always his most alluring. As for all of the circular motion, it turned up in seaming, puckering and a skirt crafted from giant white silk roses.
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