Chanel show mixes tomboy chic, elegance

— Chanel turned tomboy in Friday's ready-to-wear show for the fall-winter collection.

Versatile designer Karl Lagerfeld dipped into his Coco Chanel memories and found a look she started in the '20s, putting the trademark tweedy touch on man-tailored jackets.

Lagerfeld explained in the show's program that he would not describe the collection as androgynous or unisex. But occasionally the two sexes can dress the same, as he showed by parading out a male and female model wearing matching bright blue pants and dark leather jackets.

The clothes created a woman who was both strong and faintly fragile, who never looked droopy or as if she were really wearing a man's jacket.

Wearing cute plaid or herringbone newsboys' or engineers' caps, the girls came out in slim pants with some wonderful jacquard knit jackets or coats and pullovers in lovely check plaids and herringbones.

It looked warm and easy, fine for town or country, though the knits occasionally looked a bit heavy.

But short or long white cashmere blend coats were sleek and outstanding.

Lagerfeld didn't forget the classic Chanel skirt suits. They were knee length, in soft, multicolored tweeds worn with practical but not so flattering patent leather shoes cut high at the instep.

Edging into feminine evening wear, Lagerfeld showed a fine blue outfit -- a blue-plaid topper and a long to the ankle stiffened lacy skirt edged in plaid to match the pullover.

A couple of shiny gold-blue quilted strapless dresses in a synthetic fabric looked OK for a rich debutante. But more interesting for the sophisticate is the strict, long black tweed sheath, or a smashing Little Lord Fauntleroy suit a la Coco.

This collection was not a blockbuster, like some of Lagerfeld's creations for Chanel. But there is a lot to admire.

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