Fashion: If You've Got It, Flaunt It

To fight low-price chains that pick up the latest trends, designers are upping the ante

Karl Lagerfeld is used to being imitated. "Chanel called it flattery," he shrugs. "For me, it's good because it pushes me to things they can't copy." By Chanel, he means Coco, the founder of the label Lagerfeld has headed for 22 years. "They" are spry fashion chains such as Zara and H&M, whose skill at reproducing luxury looks at affordable prices is driving designers to more-difficult-to-emulate extravagance in their ready-to-wear collections. At the recent shows in Milan and Paris, even the most jaded front-row fashionistas leaned forward for a closer look at the swaths of excess. On Chanel's runway, there were...

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