German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in the background, acknowledges the audience as models present creations by Chanel at the end of the Chanel Spring-Summer 2019 Ready-to-Wear collection fashion show at the Grand Palais in Paris, on October 2, 2018. (AFP/Bertrand Guay)
Karl Lagerfeld took Chanel for a paddle in the sea Tuesday, creating a huge beach with real waves for his joyously zingy Paris fashion week show.
The 85-year-old produced a winningly youthful and colourful collection to lift the spirits of jaded fashionistas on the last day of a marathon month of shows in New York, London and Milan.
Louis Vuitton wrapped up the packed nine-day Paris schedule with an equally vivid show where designer Nicolas Ghesquiere cut his clean and classy ankle boots, short skirt and jacket schtick with vivid electric florals and highly-coloured abstract painted patterns.
The brightness of both big shows with their celebrity-packed front rows -- Cate Blanchett ruled at Vuitton while the Princess of Thailand Sirivannavari Nariratana graced Chanel -- were in stark contrast to the battalions of black that swept much of the Paris spring-summer catwalks.
Ghesquiere's show was controversially co-ed, with men walking the runway too even though the label has its own menswear line now led by the American designer Virgil Abloh of Off-White fame.
But it was his mini-bags and a run of short belted dresses, two in glinting metallic mail, that drew the most admiring looks at his Louvre show along with minimalistic three-tone coats and jackets.
With soft drizzle falling outside and the October chill beginning to bite in a grey French capital, more than one fashionista regretted not taking a towel to Chanel's artificial beach.
Led by the designer's latest muse, Dutch-born Luna Bijl, models walked barefoot through waves which lapped onto the white sand thanks to a set of hidden pistons.
Catwalk queens including Cara Delevingne and Cindy Crawford's daughter Kaia Gerber came up from the beach and slipped into low mules to strut the boardwalk runway.
Sometimes Chanel's spectacular sets are as talked about as the clothes.
But this time the clothes had a lot to say for themselves.
Karl's fresh new look
The veteran creator hit the sweet spot from his oversized Chanel jackets and 1960s-style egg-shell blue trapeze coat dress to a long line of classy casual looks using the show's beach umbrella motif.
With a beady eye on the bottom line, Lagerfeld used the brand's name in capital letters everywhere he could.
From the clothes themselves and a new line of big crystal necklaces, belts and earrings, the label's name also turned up on a set of double-billed straw hats with CHA at the front and NEL at the back.
Little silver and black beach-ball bags came on Chanel chains and a black scallop shell-shaped number with patent spines had smartphones clicking.
And with Lagerfeld insisting that the only thing better than a Chanel bag is having two, he sent out Bijl and a few of his other stars carrying two classic Chanel bags slung across the body, one in each hand like a pair of six-shooters.
In the past Lagerfeld has turned the vast Grand Palais into an ocean liner, a rocket launch pad, the world's chicest supermarket and controversially a mid-winter wood full of trees.
After environmentalists attacked Chanel in March for felling decades-old oaks for its autumn-winter collection, the label said it would now "attempt to recycle, reuse and or find alternative uses for the materials" it uses in its shows.
Lagerfeld said afterwards that the show, whose alternative reality Vogue compared to "The Truman Show", was meant to be escapist in these dark times.
"It is a good idea to make something with some hope in it," he told Vogue.
Having grown a snowy white beard earlier this year, Lagerfeld seems to be embracing change, ditching his trademark shades for the second time in a week after turning up to Hedi Slimane's debut at Celine in a new pair of black-framed glasses.
And in a nod to the atelier of designers and craftswomen who have long supported him, Lagerfeld took the bow alongside his head of studio Virginie Viard, one of the label's behind-the-scenes heroines.