The 350 guests reclining on sun beds in the famous white tented cabanas certainly felt privileged to be witnessing the extreme glamour of the designer’s learned-but-light invocation of an important part of Coco Chanel’s biography, one that was overlaid with passing allusions to Visconti, Fellini, the Venice carnival, and the city’s art treasures.
“I wanted to reinvent the mystique,” said Karl Lagerfeld, talking about locating the collection in one of Coco Chanel’s favorite summer haunts—she visited Venice for almost ten years beginning in 1919 and met Diaghilev here.
“Coco on the Lido,” as Lagerfeld called it, started with a tableau of figures in tricorne hats and cloaks—cover-ups for a play on girdles and bras as bathing suits. Next came Tatjana Patitz promenading in creamy lace as the picture-hatted Edwardian mother in Death in Venice, her sailor-suited son Tadzio and his two sisters in ingenue fan-pleated dresses trailing behind. From there, the sequence took off into matelot- and gondolier-inspired stripes, interpreted in long-line fine-knit cardigans and playful beachwear with funny red and white striped wedge booties. The references kept streaming out—a halterneck dress fashioned in plissé knit to suggest Fortuny, the deep Doge red and the golden lion motif of the city flag, shimmery sequins and glass embroidery made to imitate the light of Venice glancing off water.
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