Women in Music 2016

Usher Joins Chanel at Technology-Themed Paris Fashion Week Show

Thibault Camus/AP/REX/Shutterstock 
Usher poses for photographers prior to Chanel's Spring-Summer 2017 ready-to-wear fashion collection presented Oct. 4, 2016 in Paris. 

Chanel’s show is always one of the — if not the — most anticipated show of Paris Fashion Week. In part because a) it’s Chanel and b) you never know quite what Karl Lagerfeld, the Parisian house’s creative director of 34 years, has in store, particularly when it comes to sets or the front row.

On Tuesday morning, Lagerfeld transformed Paris’s glass-ceilinged Grand Palais into “Data Center Chanel,” featuring racks upon racks of servers set behind sheets of plastic lining a runway that ran the length and breadth of the Grand Palais’s main hall. The R&B singer Usher — whose latest album, Hard II Love, dropped just two-and-a-half weeks ago — made a rare front row appearance alongside Courtney Love, her daughter Frances Bean Cobain, Chanel face Lily-Rose Depp and, further down next to Vogue’s Anna Wintour, tennis star Roger Federer.

Usher Sounds More Like His R&B Contemporaries on 'Hard II Love'

Set to a soundtrack of — what else? — techno music (specifically, DJ Dextro’s “Tremulo”), two models emerged, one in a classic Chanel suit in white, the other in black, and both wearing white plastic helmets, gloves and leg encasings in the style of the internationally famous robot Pepper, the one designed by Japan’s SoftBank as a day-to-day companion with a unnerving ability to read and respond to human emotions. It was a striking image.

What followed were looks that riffed on the visual themes of digital technology, particularly the more tangible aspects (i.e. the hardware): There were colorful tweed suits that looked as if they were woven of plastic-sheathed wire; silk dresses and coats digitally printed with blown-up and abstracted cable cords; shiny, quilted black jackets criss-crossed with rainbow-colored thread; and, sure to be a strong seller, light-up versions of the house’s bestselling bags. These were paired with ‘90s-style baseball caps festooned with the house’s signature flower, the camilla; ropes of faux pearls that riffed on rapper chains of the same decade; single oversized earrings; and sheer lingerie details on blouses and skirts (which is shaping up to be a key trend of the spring/summer 2017 season).