Photo: Francois Mori/AP

On the last day of fashion week in Paris, a rocket launched inside the Grand Palais. It was the centerpiece of Chanel’s 2017 show and actually lifted off 10 meters or so from the platform with sparks and fog machines simulating thrust.

At first blush the rocket was Karl Lagerfeld’s retro-futuristic ode to the space travel ambitions of the 60s, but there’s a bit more to it than that. The Chanel-branded rocket bares more of a resemblance to the contemporary entries into the private space race—it’s more SpaceX than Saturn V. And the clothes themselves were dominated by mute color palettes and sparkly silver bits that matched the utilitarian space aesthetic but almost seem like Apple products.

In other words, it felt almost like an ode to private tech giants and the new age of for-profit space exploration than a callback to post-war optimism. But the clothes did have retro tinges that evoked Jackie Onassis as a space emperor:

Photo: Francois Mori/AP

While other looks were a little less traditional and more sci-fi:

Photo: Francois Mori/AP


Perhaps I’m too calcified as a technology blogger but those goggles remind of me of Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, the HoloLens. And that shimmering blanket hood, well, sure, space can be cozy. But it wasn’t all completely monochrome and space metal grey.

Photos: Francois Mori/AP

There was a bit of Bowie in the mix and Elton John’s Rocket Man played during the launch. Not a subtle choice but an effective one. But the show was really dominated by the centerpiece, that giant rocket seemingly blasting off through the glass roof through some unique practical effects. (The bottom of the rocket actually retracted into the stationary top so that only the rocket engines below rose off the ground.) Altogether it was an impressive feat that feels like something spawned by Disney Imagineers more than fashion designers, which, personally, works for me.