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Lexi Boling at Chanel's SS15 feminist protestPhotography Lea Colombo

Karl Lagerfeld stages a feminist revolution at Chanel SS15

Models turned freedom fighters with protest signs reading ‘Ladies First’ and ‘Feminist But Feminine’

TextZing TsjengPhotographyLea Colombo

If you hadn't figured it out by now, Karl Lagerfeld really does know his way around a good finale. For SS15, Chanel resurrected no less than the insurrectionary spirit of the May 1968 student protests – albeit with a modern, feminist touch.

The show invitation promised a ticket to Boulevard Chanel, with the Grand Palais transformed into a wide Parisian street like the ones that saw student rioters battling police in '68. But the real meaning behind the reference only became clear when Cara Delevingne led the walk-out with a speakerphone, shouting "Come on!" like a call to battle. 

Fellow AW14 campaign star Binx Walton followed with the rest of the models, armed with placards unveiling Chanel's political intentions behind SS15: "Make Fashion Not War", "Ladies First", "Feministe Mais Feminine" ("Feminist But Feminine") and the slightly more arch "Be Your Own Stylist". Roaming photographers leapt from the sidelines and onto the runway to snap Karl's freedom fighters. 

Even second-wave feminism got a look-in: one model waved a placard reading "History is Herstory". And Karl didn't forget feminism is also for the guys, too: a lone male model in military khakis carried a "He For She" protest sign, perhaps in a nod to Emma Watson's HeForShe UN campaign for gender equality, while Karl himself strode at the very front of the march.

Last season's AW13 supermarket sweep show raised the roof on expectations for Lagerfeld's follow-up, but nobody expected him to position Chanel as the latest word in protest chic. But then again, it does make sense – who doesn't love a good old-fashioned fashion riot

Stay tuned to our Fashion Week page for our show report plus backstage images.