A shiny and glamorous version of ancient Egypt ruled the evening – with entertainment “royalty” on the runway, too – as Chanel brought its travelling fashion show to New York and the famed Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

An intimate glimpse of Karl Lagerfeld backstage at Chanel's fashion shows

Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s chief creative director, who is a lover of lavish spectacles, chose the dramatic venue for his 17th annual “Metiers d’Art” show, which takes place in a different city each year and celebrates the craftsmanship of the artisans that work with Chanel.

The imposing temple, completed in about 10BC, is a highlight of the Met’s collection and a favourite site for the museum’s annual spring fashion gala.

Indeed, the Chanel show felt like a mini-Met Gala with celebrity guests including actresses Penelope Cruz, Julianne Moore, Margot Robbie, Marion Cotillard and Lily-Rose Depp, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and director Sofia Coppola.

A celebrity even walked the runway: singer Pharrell Williams, who recently announced a collaboration with Chanel.

Chanel sheds crocodile and snake skins

Arriving to a few whoops from the crowd, the singer looked royal indeed, in a gold mesh top adorned with designs resembling a wide, jewelled Egyptian necklace, and brilliantly shiny gold leather trousers.

Gold shimmered all over the runway, as models strolled past the floodlit temple in everything from gold thigh-high boots to gold brimmed hats to glistening dresses with golden feather adornments, to shoulder-length gold earrings.

There was also some distressed denim, and definitely some tweed, but Egyptian-style bling was the order of the day.

One particularly stunning shoulderless gown looked like an Egyptian mosaic, with interlocking “tiles” in the Egyptian colour palette of light and dark blues, red, and of course, gold.

The handiwork involved in the garments was displayed in brief videos posted by Chanel on Instagram before the show, from artisans’ ateliers, or workshops: metalwork and jewellery-making from Goossens, pleating from Lognon, feather and flower adornments from Lemarié, embroidery from Montex, costume jewellery from Desrues, embroidery and tweed from Lesage, Massaro shoes and golden Maison Michel hats.

The show came only hours after the French fashion house announced it was renouncing the use of exotic skins such as crocodile, lizard and snake in future collections, because they were difficult to source ethically.

Effectively that means animal fur as well, which the house has used rarely.

On the red carpet, actress Cruz, who recently began working with the luxury label, spoke of how much she enjoyed collaborating with Lagerfeld.

“I think we can use the word genius to describe Karl,” said Cruz, in a navy gown she said was from the last “Metiers d’Art” collection.

I think we can use the word genius to describe Karl [Lagerfeld]
Penelope Cruz, actress

“He’s unique, and to spend time with him and see how much he knows about everything and how much curiosity he still has to keep growing and to keep learning ... he works so hard.”

Lagerfeld, 85, is also known for cutting no corners when it comes to fashion show spending, and his Temple of Dendur extravaganza – only the third time he has shown in New York – will certainly not change that reputation.

As they left the museum, guests were escorted into black cars for a ride about 10 blocks south into Central Park, where an indoor venue had been transformed into a Chanel “diner”, complete with food trucks offering drinks, cheeseburgers and fries and milk shakes.

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