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No gimmicks at Chanel. Just beautiful clothes you could actually wear in public.

One in a series on the clothes that had a big moment at Paris Fashion Week.

PARIS — There was no elaborate recreation of a bistro, no faux art gallery, no giant glacier. Designer Karl Lagerfeld steered clear of the type of Instagram-friendly mise-en-scenes he has constructed in the past for his Chanel runway shows. Instead, for fall 2016,  he chose a more death-defying, calamity-courting path. He outlined a long, narrow, winding runway that gave every guest, including Pharrell Williams, an up-close, front row seat from which to view and inspect his clothes.

As the models whizzed by from the left and the right, they were at times so close that their skirt hems nearly brushed your knees.

[Robin Givhan at Paris Fashion Week: Complete coverage]

It was possible to see the details of construction: the way that swirls of silver sequins were perfectly even and neatly stitched, the delicate fraying on a fuchsia dress, the way a skirt unzipped on the side to reveal as much leg as a woman desired. It was possible to easily distinguish between prints (camellias on trousers) and embellishments (the gold chain embroidery on jackets).

The styling was simple. The models wore shallow bucket hats and ropes and ropes of pearls in the nonchalant Chanel way. Some had slipped on gloves that zipped up the forearm. And the tweed or canvas shaft of boots connected to the leather foot with an open lattice weave that circled the ankle.

It was undeniable. These clothes could function in the real world. And to drive that message home, one jacket even had an iPhone tucked into the breast pocket — its matte silver casing visible through the open weave. A perfect fit. The model wore fingerless gloves — the easier to text on the go.

In the ongoing conversation about how fashion should be presented and how best to serve the customer, here was one iteration of a shopper’s show. It comes from a designer who, perhaps more than any other, has figured out how to build an enduring relationship between consumers and the brand. Lagerfeld knows how to excite a woman’s imagination to the degree that she will fulfill her out-of-her-price-range lust for a Chanel jacket with a $40 lipstick or $30 nail lacquer. But he also knows how to get to the heart of fashion, which is to give customers clothes that they can easily wear.

Often those accessible frocks are hidden behind the smoke and mirrors of a runway show. This time, they were center stage.


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