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Chanel goes aquatic as Vuitton channels regime rock chic at PFW

Karl Lagerfeld built a huge waterfall and flooded the vast Grand Palais for his spectacular Chanel show Tuesday, the final day of Paris Fashion Week.

The veteran designer sent out an army of "water nymphs" and modish mermaids in glittering white and blue-green outfits along a catwalk that snaked over a 85-metre-long recreation of the Gorges du Verdon in the mountains of Provence, where Chanel grows the jasmine and May rose flowers that go into its perfumes.

Chanel goes aquatic as Vuitton channels regime rock chic at PFW

This was the life aquatic with big raindrop earrings, scalloped skirts, jellyfish and glitterball bags, and dripping mother of pearl dresses that created their own personal rainbows in the shimmering light. Yet what no one could take their eyes off were the thigh-high transparent PVC boots.

If the Duchess of Cambridge or Kim Kardashian need to look elegant the next time they go fishing for pike, Lagerfeld has just the waders for them. In fact the German-born creator went PVC crazy, throwing in enough see-through rain hats, hoods and even elbow-length evening gloves to keep his well-heeled customers dry during a hurricane.

Chanel goes aquatic as Vuitton channels regime rock chic at PFW

Louis Vuitton's new aristos

But for sheer jaw-dropping impact, the shrewd American avant-gardist Thom Browne pulled the plug on Chanel's 15-metre waterfalls with his first women's show in Paris.

In a week when models' size came under the microscope after Kering and LVMH, the two big luxury conglomerates, banned ultrathin models from their shows, Browne sent out fatsuit dresses resembling the fleshy forms of the ancient Anatolian mother goddess, Cybele, and the "Hottentot Venus".

The fact that both models were in ballet pointes added another layer of magical strangeness. It was the first of many Wow moments in a show that began with "dream weavers", their heads encased in bubbles of tulle, preparing the way for his postmodern mermaids, preppies who might have come straight from "The Munsters" and alieniod creations that gave new meaning to turtleneck.

Chanel goes aquatic as Vuitton channels regime rock chic at PFW

It ended with a unicorn and a couple of the dream weavers sleeping in a bed next to the rings of Saturn. No such silliness at Louis Vuitton, the label of preference for France's first lady Brigitte Macron. In keeping with her husband's monarchical bent, designer Nicolas Ghesquiere channelled Versailles with ancien regime 18th-century tailcoats which he matched with silk sports shorts.

While these richly embroidered tops were in the palace, feet were firmly in the street with trainer-style shoes to complement the brand's rock-chic sports and evening wear.

Chanel goes aquatic as Vuitton channels regime rock chic at PFW

That the starry show, with Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett and Julianne Moore in the front row, took place under the Louvre Museum in the moat of the medieval seat of the French kings, reinforcing the message that these were clothes for the new elite. (AFP)

Chanel goes aquatic as Vuitton channels regime rock chic at PFW The international Fashion Week season for women's ready-to-wear kicks off in the month of September, with all eyes set on New York, Paris, London and Milan for next seasons latest trends. For all the women's wear catwalk season must reads, click here.

Photos: Catwalkpictures