Inside Chanel's Secret Garden With Kaia Gerber

Kaia Gerber walks the runway during the Chanel Spring Summer 2018  -Getty-H 2018
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The mini Cindy Crawford — and Karl Lagerfeld's beard — made their Chanel runway debut.

Chanel was in full bloom in Paris on Tuesday morning for its spring 2018 couture show, with a light and airy collection unveiled in a secret garden that had models strolling among lattice work within the Grand Palais.

It was a more intimate and simple set than designer Karl Lagerfeld has created in recent seasons — oh, his rocket ship and replica Eiffel Tower come to mind — with a bubbling fountain and pink roses all around. Likewise, the designer showed simple silhouettes with many drop-waist dresses, the house tweeds cut into longer length jackets over miniskirts and more than one pair of bedazzled evening overalls. 

It was as if Lagerfeld had looked to Laduree for inspiration, opening a box of macarons next to fabric swatches. Kaia Gerber made her couture debut in a frothy pink confection that was one part princess dress, one part ice-dancing costume. Most looks were candy colored and sweet as can be; all were topped off with glossy raspberry lips. Low, Lucite-heel boots anchored each look, and flower crowns with veils added mystery. 

It was a throwback kind of femininity, which while beautiful felt jarring at this moment in time. In the wake of the Golden Globes red-carpet “blackout” and the Times Up movement calling for equal pay, where was the Lagerfeld of 2015 who sent models storming the runway to fight for feminism in a fashion show-turned-women's march? That was ready-to-wear, a different kind of collection for a different kind of client, but couture could use an injection of insurrection, too. 

Well, at least he sent out his bride in pants and a bow tie (framed by a feathery skirt).

A very casual Marion Cotillard sat front row in a cozy Chanel sweater dress, ankle boots and a messy ponytail. Her style has become more relaxed and rock ’n’ roll since her departure from the Dior roster.

Sofia Coppola was overheard telling guests that she’s been busy writing after last year’s Cannes win for The Beguiled, but despite being one of only four women to be nominated for a best director Oscar (Greta Gerwig made it five just this morning), she refused questions about Time’s Up or equality in Hollywood.

Young actresses Yara Shahidi and Ellie Bamber were front and center perched on the benches. “I’m hoping it rains today, because I want to go outside and play,” Bamber said of her clear Chanel cape and boots, making her perhaps the only person feeling the sentiment in Paris after days of downpours. The Nocturnal Animals star said that after working with Chanel for several red carpets, the house stylists “know I like to go a little bit crazy.” Chanel "is so elegant, but keeps an edge that I really love. Karl always keeps it young and fresh,” she said.

Many of the dresses on the runway had pockets, and a few were paired with black fingerless gloves, which means that some clients will soon be able to get their hands on a piece of Lagerfeld’s signature style. But the most buzzed-about accessory? The beard Lagerfeld debuted during men’s week. Fit for an elder fashion statesman.