The art of parties and beyond

Chanel Cruise, Miami

The denouement of Michel Gaubert's whirlwind trip to Miami for the Chanel Cruise show...

May 15: Today is the big day. I finished mixing the show's soundtrack late last night and made it to the rehearsal this morning with the synchronized swimmers of the U.S. Olympic team. They'll be performing a water ballet in the shape of the Chanel logo to the song Bali Hai from the musical South Pacific, courtesy of yours truly. Karl Lagerfeld oversaw the rehearsal with his camera, wearing a white blazer with a black trimmed lapel that matched the black edge of the Raleigh's pool, where the show was to take place. Everyone was impressed by the team's aquatic abilities, wishing they could do the same.

There were more rehearsals in the afternoon, before the doors finally opened. The place looked like a movie set, complete with Chanel beach balls, lifesavers, a ladder and chair for a life guard and even art-deco Chanel booths to greet the global fashionistas. In walked frou-frou Miami bouffants, some french twists and of course tons of straightened hair. Everyone was happy it was not too hot, not least the models and dressers, who were getting ready in a tent adjacent to the hotel.

The show started under a still blue sky, enhanced by big spotlights that made everyone look tan—just in case the bottles of Coco Mademoiselle Shimmering Touch in the gift bags weren't enough. Anna Wintour, Numéro editrix Babeth Djian, Mademoiselle Agnès of Canal +, Arthur Elgort, Glamour fashion director Xanthipi Joannides, Le Figaro's Virginie Mouzat and actresses Anna Mouglalis, Diane Kruger and Joanna Preiss were all in attendance, enjoying the weather and the privilege.

Despite the assumption it would be an all-pastel collection, the show opened with black looks inspired by Brian Jones, of 60's Rolling Stones fame. Touché and so chic. Bathing suits followed. Again, everyone assumed the models would plunge into the pool, but they remained on the runway. Handsome Sebastien Jondeau had the best men's look, wearing the most covetable cashmere hoodie I've seen in a while, and which I'll definitely order. Many pieces were made from a special kind of plastic embroidered in the retro-futuristic style, Miami's trademark. At the end, the Olympic team came out to do their exquisite ballet.

Afterwards, there was a private party in the garden of the Raleigh, where guests were treated to miniature versions of mojitos, burgers, fries and sandwiches with truffles, the new caviar. Everyone danced, including Karl, who did the tango with Joanna Preiss. Following dinner, the more daring guests put on their swim suits and dove into the pool, turning the security slightly ballistic. And if you really want to know, there was an after-after-party at Set, where pictures were not allowed.

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With his trusty Leica camera, Michel Gaubert takes us behind the scenes of the lead-up to the Chanel Cruise collection in Miami...

May 7: Karl Lagerfeld is taking Chanel to Miami for its 2009 Cruise show, or Resort, as they say in America. A few days before crossing the Atlantic to a warmer climate, the whole Chanel team got together in Karl's studio somewhere in the 7th arrondissement to put the finishing touches on the presentation. Karl also likes to photograph a collection beforehand, so he took the opportunity to shoot models Sasha Pivovarova and Brad Koenig against a recreation of a Miami sunset. While Odile Gilbert blew-dry Sasha's hair into a breezy do and Peter Philips gave her a sun-kissed face, and with accessories strewn everywhere (including a particularly killer pair of stilettos—you'll find out later just how killer), I played a remix of Del Shannon to get everyone in the mood. Sunshine State, here we come!

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May 12: The penthouse of the Raleigh in Miami is turned into a studio, atelier and fitting room, while all the trunks are on the roof, closely watched by some cool bodyguards. The place is ready for action when Karl arrives later that day. A few feathers remain to be sewn on, but everything is neatly displayed: shoes by height, accessories by sort and colors by number. The hotel's famously curvy pool, once the home of glamorous celluloid mermaids and where the show will take place, is undergoing a light makeover to accommodate the guests, the models and all of us in the wings. The collection on Thursday is destined to make a big splash.

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May 14: It's the day before the show and the Raleigh is in full swing. We renamed it the Chanel Hotel for the occasion. Models have all come in for their fittings: Irina, Irina K., Kim Noorda, Iekeliene Stange, Natasha Poly, Chanel Iman. Spirits are high as we follow the first rehearsal and watch the girls walk along the edge of the world's most famous pool. The production crew made Chanel lifesavers, in case someone slips in the water—you never know. So far, my music selection consists of Quiet Village, Del Shannon (Pilooski edit) and Gonzales, but for now we are keeping the finale track a secret as it will give away the collection. Meanwhile, an after-party on the beach is also being set up—expect a lot of Chanel flip flops—and tonight there will be a dinner hosted by Chanel, in honor of Karl Lagerfeld. Diane Kruger, Anna Mouglalis, Ingrid Sischy, Madamoiselle Agnès, Steven Gan, Virginie Mouzat, Olivier Zahm and myself will dine al fresco at Casa Tua, where the burrata cheese is better than in Italy. Everywhere we turn, smoking is strictly prohibited; the French contingent tries to rebel, but without much luck. Good night, everyone.

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