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Chanel's Cruise show: As if Marie Antoinette went to the beach

After weeks and weeks of rain in Paris, the sun shone for fashion's king, Karl Lagerfeld, who staged the 2012 Chanel Cruise collection at Versailles on Monday evening. The Cruise season, which arrives in stores at the end of fall (and is also known as Resort), has become an essential addition to the fashion industry calendar, providing a segue into spring, as well as lighter wardrobe options for those who winter in balmy, beachside locales

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Guests donning enough Chanel to fill a museum show entered the palace grounds to an arrangement of cabanas placed around a grand fountain that spouted and burbled with gusto. Tilda Swinton, Vanessa Paradis and Vogue’s André Leon Talley were some of the recognizable faces among international clients and editors.

Jacques Brinon / AP/Jacques Brinon / AP

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With a remix of MIA’s Bad Girls blaring through the garden setting, models strolled through the gravel like descendants of Marie Antoinette by way of 1980s SoHo. Here, casual chambray counters the period details. Also, of course, jumpsuits did not exist in the 18th century.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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I suspect the ubiquity of denim, interpreted so lavishly, was not coincidental. With a new Socialist president, François Hollande, France is entering into a period of idealistic change. Perhaps this decadent interpretation of utilitarian denim represents a stylistic tension between the country’s opposing attitudes.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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Note the interlocking temporary tattoo below the model's eye in place of a teardrop (which can alternately represent time in prison or murder). Oooh Chanel, you miscreant!

BENOIT TESSIER/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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Lagerfeld seems to be drawing a little from Louis XIV, a little from Kanye West and a lot from the Canadian tuxedo.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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Only at Chanel could tweed palazzo pants exist without irony. Ditto the candy-coloured bobs over ponytail hair – a nod to the powdered wigs from the 18th century (and perhaps a more tasteful take on today’s rainbow-coiffed stars Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry).

Jacques Brinon / AP/Jacques Brinon / AP

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Period costume is awfully cumbersome. But high-waisted, ruffled panier shorts? That’s precisely the sort of item to pack for a weekend in St. Barths.

Jacques Brinon / AP/Jacques Brinon / AP

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A cruise collection would not be complete without swimwear. This one boasts a 1930s-influenced design. Whether or not it creates problematic tan lines is beside the point.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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Ruffled floral watercolour dress aside, check out the footwear. Prada introduced the novelty sneaker last spring and now Chanel has thrown down the gauntlet with a reflective platform.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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Chanel inevitably returns to the codes that define the house, namely a restrained palette and beautifully executed shapes. On another level, this look also reminds me of a Japanese Lolita who has graduated from doll-like pinafores to Chanel.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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There’s nothing quite like a Chanel leather-quilted watering can to make someone covet his neighbour’s … gardening accessories.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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By restyling the excess of the past, the collection expressed Lagerfeld’s cheeky side. The question remains whether customers will play along. Moreover, does French court fashion translate to Miami Beach?

Jacques Brinon / AP/Jacques Brinon / AP

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Karl Lagerfeld in full-on cruise control. His reign continues.

Benoit Tessier / Reuters/Benoit Tessier / Reuters

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