Sam McKnight, like Karl Lagerfeld, knows how to get a party started. In the white noise of Fashion Month, no one quite makes sound like Karl, Chanel and Sam. Dab hands they may be, but each season, as the Chanel vessel descends upon Fashion Week, they engage a whole new crowd, a youthful crowd, a spirited crowd, and most importantly, a crowd willing to listen, and subsequently regram, repost and rehash the Chanel story. They continue to engage the flighty fashion flock through an experiential voyage into Karl’s mind, always played out via a momentous stage and equally momentous appendages. And despite the classic Chanel tropes which persist (tweed, quilting, gloves) they are reimagined each time in a whole new world, on a whole new (extravagant) set, for eager consumers to fawn over.

Kaia Gerber opens for Chanel with rain hat and Perspex pony

Fawn, as it were, was an integral colour in Karl’s luxuriant world this time, as too sage, emerald, jade; he created a forest to mimic the Gorges du Verdon, a famed canyon with multiple waterfalls in the south of France, now taking up root in the Grand Palais. Chanel’s Gorge was replete with crawling vines, pines both big and small, mossy slabs of rock, sprouting shrubs, a rope-bridge, and the piece de resistance (there’s always one, or six); a waterfall, six of them, 45 feet high, with tonnes of running water and that inevitable haze. But how were Chanel’s princesses to keep dry from the downpour? With plastic, of course.

Incandescent fringing and plastic at Chanel

PVC, Perspex, crystal, plastic – all manifestations of the ‘see-through’ were rendered into soon-to-be cult pieces. Feet were kept warm in gauzy, gumboot-like shoes (with a Cinderella-type crystal heel, nonetheless). Outerwear was light, shiny translucent. Spray jackets came with hoods, even the 2.55 handbag had its own protective hood, of course. Diamonds were dangly, clear and brilliant. Heads were topped with transparent chapeaus (because where would a Chanel girl be without her hat?). And just like the tops of heads were kept dry, hair too, made a strong case for wet-weather (hair) dressing. Almost.

Up close with Sam McKnight’s creation

Say bonjour to the “Perspex Pony,” McKnight’s witty take on weather-appropriate hairstyling. Pulled back and secured at the nape, hair was quite literally sucked into slender Perspex tubes via a vacuum, which was tied with a singular string and clung to the mid-lengths of the hair. Of course, even when equipped with the waxiest of waterproof paraphernalia, and you get caught in the rain drinking Piña Coladas and the like (French Champagne), hair is not immune to wetness. A cheeky aquatic reference to this, McKnight dabbed the ends ever so slightly with water, just as if the girls had been frolicking near a waterfall, for example, and were sprayed ever so gently by her mist, waterproof canotier and all. Ingenious, visionary and sassy; McKnight, as always, is the maker of trends of artistic magic, and this was no exception.

The Perspex Pony in all its glory

For Chanel, it was all about sunlight and moonlight and its refraction upon water. In this diaphanous duality, Chanel and McKnight went bang. Wet-weather dressing, done the Chanel way; here’s to chasing waterfalls.