Rows of vintage American convertibles parked for a Chanel drive-in movie. Ice cream and popcorn stands. Spiked cherry lime-aid cocktails. And these were just the sights that welcomed guests in the first 10 minutes.
In a crowd of nearly 1,000 celebrities — actresses Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart and Lauren Hutton among them — top Chanel customers in Dallas and around the country, supermodels and members of the international fashion media made their way to a chilly Fair Park on Tuesday night to attend the French fashion house’s Métiers d’Art runway show.
The once-a-year show is always held in a locale important to Chanel’s history, and it celebrates the mind-boggling handiwork of the 11 couture workshops that Chanel has been buying since the 1980s.
The clothes in a Métiers collection are keyed geographically to that year’s location. Dallas played an important role in Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s career. Retailer Stanley Marcus championed the designer’s debut collection in 1954, after a 15-year hiatus. In 1957, he gave her Neiman Marcus’ most prestigious fashion award, in a ceremony at the Statler Hilton downtown.
“Tonight is more than a collection, it’s about the strength of the content,” said John Galantic, Chanel’s president and chief operating officer. “It’s about how to make parts of Mademoiselle Chanel’s life something for the future.”
The event was divided into three parts. First, a “drive-in” screening of the short film The Return, written and directed by Chanel artistic director Karl Lagerfeld, in Fair Park’s Automobile Building. Lagerfeld arrived at the showing with much fanfare, then climbed into a convertible with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley.
The crowd then changed locations for a runway show filled with Western-inspired fashions dripping with denim, pearls and fringe (Irving-born supermodel and actress Erin Wasson returned home to walk the runway), followed by an after-party.
Lagerfeld said he was thinking of Houston socialite Lynn Wyatt when he designed the collection. He dedicated the designs to Wyatt.
“I love Dallas. I love Texans. They are the nicest of people,” Lagerfeld said. “Texas is wild, but I made it more romantic.”
Among the crowd of international celebrities were plenty of Dallasites, including Dallas Cowboys first lady Gene Jones (who took the driver’s seat early on in a parked black Cadillac), art collectors Howard and Cindy Rachofsky, philanthropists John and Jennifer Eagle, jewelry designer Sue Gragg, Forty Five Ten retailer Brian Bolke, art dealer James Cope, socialite Nancy Rogers, fragrance designer Niven Morgan and this year’s Two x Two chair, Christen Wilson. Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz and fashion director Ken Downing were also busy making the rounds.
Fanning — dressed in, what else, full Chanel — joked that she would maybe eat Mexican food once she got out of her dress.
Wednesday, in somewhat of a full-circle moment, Wintour will present a Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion to Lagerfeld at the company’s flagship store downtown.
Staff writers Rob Brinkley, Christina Geyer, Bradley Agather Means and Heather Young contributed to this report.