Lagerfeld takes Chanel to beach for his second youth

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 collection to lift the spirits of jaded fashionistas on the last day of the packed nine-day schedule, which ends a marathon month of shows in New York, London and Milan. With soft drizzle falling outside and the October chill beginning to bite in a grey French capital, more than one regretted not taking a towel.

To further lift the spirits, the Kaiser seemed to have found something of a second youth, brilliantly applying the oversized trend to the classic Chanel tweed jacket and sending out a line of accessories and summery looks that set Instagram humming. He even did an impromptu little jig on a pier at the end to acknowledge the prolonged applause.

Led by Lagerfeld's latest muse, Dutch-born Luna Bijl, models walked barefoot through waves which whispered onto the white sand thanks to a set of hidden pistons.

An army of stars and celebrities including singer Pharrell Williams and actress Pamela Anderson watched from the dunes as a battalion of catwalk queens including Cara Delevingne and Cindy Crawford's daughter Kaia Gerber came up from the beach and slipped into low mules to walk the broadwalk 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 blue trapeze coat dress to a long line of classy casual looks using the show's beach umbrella motif. All the brand's couture touches were there in glittering flowery crystal embroidery and in little black tulle dresses fit for the most select beach villa soirees.

With a beady eye on the bottom line, Lagerfeld used the brand's name in capital letters everywhere. 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 glorious 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. 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.

Having grown a snowy white beard earlier this year, Karl seems to be embracing change, ditching his trademark shades for the second time this week after turning up to Hedi Slimane's debut at Celine in a new pair of black-framed glasses. (AFP)

Photo: Bertrand GUAY / AFP