French Environmental Groups Slam Chanel's Paris Fashion Week Show

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Chanel's forest runway

If a tree falls in the forest...

When guests walked into Chanel's enchanted forest set Tuesday and found themselves surrounded by more than two dozen trees, everyone poked and prodded and wondered if they were real. 

It turns out they were real, and they were trucked in from the forest of Perche, 100 miles east of Paris.

Instagram-happy guests were delighted, but French environmental groups are not.

Calling the show a "heresy," the federation France Nature Environment (FNE) is criticizing the brand for featuring 30 old growth trees on the runway.

"Promotion of the diversity of French forests, an invitation to return to nature, a desire to give themselves an eco-responsible brand image … whatever the motive of Chanel, it missed," the group wrote in a statement. "The show aims to give a greener image to Chanel but it is actually out of sync with the real issues of protection of nature and the environment."

Some comments on the brand's Facebook page were equally charged, calling cutting down the trees for a fashion show "an outright degradation," “a shame" and a "disappointment."

"Instead of having created beauty, you have created a notorious precedent," one commenter wrote.

It is not the first time designer Karl Lagerfeld has been criticized for the environmental impact of his over-the-top sets. In 2010, Chanel brought in 18 trucks of ice from a glacier in Sweden (and dressed model Baptiste Giabiconi as a polar bear) for a collection that purported to shine a light on global warming. No word on what the carbon footprint of that was.

Chanel responded that it had acquired the trees as part of a planned cut. As a result of the outrage, the brand has committed to planting 100 new oak trees in the area.

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