One in a series on the clothes having a moment at Paris Fashion Week:


A giant rocket dominated the set at the Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection, staged at the Grand Palais. (Marcelo Soubhia/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

PARIS — Karl Lagerfeld is a showman, a provocateur, a man of the social-media age. Whether he is serving up biting opinions about Adele, mischaracterizing Meryl Streep’s relationship with design houses or envisioning the staging of a runway show, the Chanel creative director knows how to capture our attention and set Instagram on fire.

The company’s elaborate sets in the Grand Palais have included a Paris bistro, an airport terminal, an art gallery and a grocery store. This time, after guests made their way past security checkpoints that included bag checks and identification inspections, they entered the vast exhibition hall to find a Chanel rocket centered on a launchpad. Soaring several stories toward the sky, the rocket looked like a NASA specimen from the 1960s. It was surrounded by industrial-looking cubes with looping ducts and ventilation shafts. Blinking “radio towers” rose up between the landscape of bleachers.

The set was not so much a celebration of our current era of space exploration, in which tourist flights to Mars are the dream, but rather a look back, when scientists still puzzled over the chemistry of the moon’s soil, and “The Andromeda Strain” was man’s great existential fear.

This collection, rolled out to Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” was defined by the boots and bouffants of the 1960s — the years when fashion was shifting away from the reserved style we saw in “Hidden Figures” to the iconoclasm of the Youthquake.


Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection (Marcelo Soubhia/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection (Marcelo Soubhia/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection (Helle Moos/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection (Marcelo Soubhia/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

This collection included glittery knee-high boots, structured shift dresses and squared-off jackets sprinkled with sparkles. Some dresses were practically blinding — constellation patterns, Milky Way galaxies, starry night images. There were more contemporary, sporty gestures, too. They included silver backpacks, hoodies and dresses emblazoned with moon-man prints, silver trousers and quilted wraps that suggested astronaut blankets.


Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection (Marcelo Soubhia/MCV Photo For The Washington Post)

Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection (Marcelo Soubhia/MCV Photo For The Washington Post)

It was a fun and delightful collection in which the theme-park atmosphere added to the joy. There was also a mood of hopefulness in it. Perhaps it was that the show served as a full-throated distraction from the many grim matters here on Earth. Or maybe it was the childlike optimism that can fuel dreams about spaceships and space travel.

As the models made their final march around the runway, Lagerfeld took his bows and then — with the help of his godson Hudson Kroenig, who had walked in the show — pressed a bright red launch button to begin a countdown. Smoke swirled around the bottom of the rocket. Lights blinked and the rocket’s engines glowed. Then it appeared to lift off — the ship’s tail end retracting toward the nose and toward the glass roof of the Grand Palais. And the audience cheered at the sheer kitschy, indulgent audacity of the spectacle.

The lyrics to “Rocket Man” are a bit melancholy, exploring loneliness and isolation. And the song observes how even heroes and celebrities are subject to the same moments of wistfulness as those who live their lives in near anonymity.


The rocket at the Chanel Fall/Winter 2017 collection, staged at the Grand Palais. (Marcelo Soubhia/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

But when the engines on a faux rocket ignite and the whole thing appears to lift skyward at the command of a ponytailed octogenarian, for at least one full minute there is nothing to do but smile.

Also at Paris Fashion Week: 

Luxury fashion is desperately trying to woo millennials. That’s good for everyone.

Comme des Garcons wants you to think about our beauty standards. Really think.

This designer wants to swaddle you in so many yards of sensual velvet this fall

Balmain, unofficial designer of the Kardashians, finds inspiration in … Nirvana?

The bizarre hats at the Rick Owens show were definitely unnerving. In a good way.

Saint Laurent is trying too hard to be sexy, and it’s just not working

You’re afraid of bold prints. Dries Van Noten will help you get over that. 

At Off-White, another hot young designer who can’t figure out what to say to women