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PARIS (Reuters) - Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld showed a fashionista's version of practicality on Tuesday with transparent bags and pleated, detachable cuffs and collars, in a collection crammed with accessories.
Buyers and executives at Paris fashion week have been on the lookout for scarves, hats and other profitable accessories that outsell clothes especially in times of economic crisis, and at Chanel they found a treasure trove.
"All the girls I know rifle through their big bags, like through a rubbish bin, looking for their Blackberries," German-born Lagerfeld told Reuters after the show. "And with this bag they know right away where it is. It's also good for airport security."
The transparent bags gave a techno look to models dressed in demure black tea-party dresses and cake-tin hats, livened up by powder pink and jade green tops and body stockings which Lagerfeld described as adding frivolity to the stern outfits.
Pleated white cuffs were higher up on the arm for similarly practical reasons, Lagerfeld said. "Down there (at the wrist) means they get dirty right away and after 10 minutes, it's over."
The playfulness marked a new beginning after Lagerfeld's all-white haute couture show earlier this year, in which he declared an end to red-carpet exuberance.
With model Kate Moss, singer Lily Allen and actress Milla Jovovich in the front row, the red-carpet brigade was back in full force for the autumn/winter ready-to-wear show.
Despite the celebrity crowd and elegant venue -- the glass-domed Grand Palais just off the Champs-Elysees -- the cutbacks were noticeable in details, such as the absence of lavish gift bags to woo editors.
Like other luxury houses, Chanel has been hit by the economic downturn, laying off 200 temporary workers.
"Green is the color of hope," Lagerfeld said in the backstage interview when asked about his color choice.
He was one of the first designers to go all-out with heavily branded small accessories, such as bangles and hair-clips with the intertwined "CC" logo based on the initials of Coco Chanel, the founder of the fashion empire.
"It's all made like jewelry, with different materials, wool, organza, sophisticated elements that you can combine with any outfit," he said of the leg-warmers, arm-warmers and cuffs that dotted the show.
Editing by Andrew Dobbie