Chanel’s show is everything that’s wrong with luxury fashion right now

When I saw Instagram story of Chanel’s rocket being launched into space, many decades after the real rocket was launched into the real space, my first reaction was visceral. I was literally sick in my stomach.

The thought emerged with this feeling of nausea: How much money was wasted on this? And more importantly, why??

Excess is a bad business strategy. It has steeply diminishing returns, and it doesn’t do anything for the actual brand building. High-end fashion, in a different era, often — but not always — used to mean excess. Today this is a shrinking value proposition.

Luxury fashion’s new value proposition is cultural dialogue and not society of spectacle; participation and not observation; wearing clothes and not being wowed by the clothes show; enduring resonance with what’s going on in the world and not “let’s go to the moon” fantasy; a point of view and not razzle-dazzle; active creation of personal identity and not adulation of a brand or a person behind it; discerning taste and not who-is-going-to-spend-more-money race.

Chanel took the dated, old-school idea of high-end fashion to its furthermost expression, with the result being like the Twilight Zone episodes of the 70’s. Remember their vision of the hairstyles in 2025? They looked eerily exactly like hairstyles in the 1972. Go figure.

The result is a completely irrelevant vision of future that relies on the past and has nothing to do with where the world is going these days.

The unfortunate side effect of the gigantic Chanel missile is that everyone was too blindsided by it to see that the collection was rather decent: perhaps a riff on the other stuff we’ve seen around, but with a decidedly Chanel touch.

I get it, though. Lagerfeld is old. He wants to recreate the glory days by using the all too literal cues of the future. Future = rockets, space travel, robots.

Give me a break.

Strategy Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Forbes’ one of The World’s Most Influential CMOs.

Strategy Executive. Author of “The Business of Aspiration.” Doctor of Sociology. Forbes’ one of The World’s Most Influential CMOs.