By Mathilde Gardin and Alexandria Sage
PARIS (Reuters) - The favorite of the ladies who lunch, Karl Lagerfeld presented a toned down, vintage-inspired collection for Chanel on Tuesday, whose grey and pink palette and classic shapes provided a refined counterpoint to the excesses of Fashion Week.
Models flitted by to a light disco soundtrack, the gossamer ruffles on their sleeves and hems quivering above the catwalk, as guests sat around wicker tables inside a gallery of the airy Grand Palais adorned with camellias.
With a demure ruffle here, a discrete fringe there, and a plethora of raspberry and pale sorbet pinks, Lagerfeld presented an uber-feminine Haute Couture collection that at times felt more spring-like than Fall/Winter 2012-2013.
Light-as-air ruffles adorned the shoulders of one pale pink party dress, imparting angel wings to its wearer, while small powder puffs of feathers cascaded down another long and lean look - an ethereal nod to the pearls that Coco Chanel loved so well.
A chemise of delicate white feathers was coupled with sailor pants in snow white, while a smartly cut suit the color of clotted cream used softened military details at the breast to impart a polished and sharp look.
"I wanted a modern elegance, casual," Lagerfeld, who paradoxically titled his show "New Vintage," told reporters after the show.
The collection's subdued refinement and occasional flights of fancy may have found inspiration in none other than Lagerfeld's newest design assistant - his fluffy white cat, Choupette.
The designer whipped out his iPhone and showed off photos of his pampered feline to reporters. The pale blue eyes of Choupette, whom Lagerfeld has described as a "kept woman", had already influenced Chanel's Spring-Summer collection presented earlier this year.
While other designers lean heavily on fur for their cold-weather collections, it was nowhere in sight chez Chanel - perhaps another sign that Choupette is running the show.
Lagerfeld did not deny his front-row followers - who on Tuesday included German actress Diane Kruger, model Milla Jovovich and director Sofia Coppola - the tweedy, nubby suits that make them swoon, whether double-breasted or belted.
Boxy shapes and block-work patterns in muted greys, blacks and berry found their way into swinging three-quarter length coats and knit dresses above the knee.
Lagerfeld leaned more heavily on the neutral of grey this season than on pure, classic black, the couture house's color of choice. But the little black dress found expression in a sweet yet sumptuous velvet dress with abundant sleeves cinched above the wrist, with buttons down the front and a Peter Pan white collar.
And, lest the muted greys in the collection be viewed as tame by his younger fans, the designer injected a jolt of high-class va va voom in a show-stopping silver satin gown.
The deco-inspired stunner featured a plunging neckline and peek-a-boo lining of sorbet pink that any star of Hollywood's Golden Age would have leapt at the chance to wear.
(Writing By Alexandria Sage; editing by Patricia Reaney)