Channeling Waterfalls at Chanel

Exploring the waterfall motif at the Chanel Spring/Summer 2018 Ready-to-Wear Show

By Mia Zarrella

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At Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2018 Ready-to-Wear show, attendees entered the Grand Palais in Paris and found themselves at the Gorges du Verdon in France. It was difficult to believe that the floor-to-ceiling waterfall flowing behind a winding bridge surrounded by serene greenery was just a set.

As the first model stepped onto the catwalk, 16-year-old  Kaia Gerber, daughter of American supermodel Cindy Crawford, the show’s theme became clear, quite literally.

The models were dressed in transparent plastic knee-high boots, plastic hoods and hats, and long plastic gloves. Other models wore swimsuits and billowing blue and white dresses with designs reminiscent of clouds, blue skies, and waterfalls. Even the classic Chanel two-piece knit suits were elegantly fringed and embellished with glittering threads to mimic the glimmer of cascading water.

Despite the graceful designs, models resembled unhappy, rebellious debutantes on their way to have afternoon tea with Grandma. Their heavy blue eyeshadow and black eyeliner resembled war paint and their expressions were fierce and pouty.




It was extravagant, yes. Is this new for Lagerfeld? No. Last season’s Space Odyssey show showcased models in metallic garments. The season before that, models strutted through what looked like a mainframe computer wearing Stormtrooper-meets-Daft Punk helmets. So, extravagance is expected with Lagerfeld. Yet, the intention behind his shows is up for interpretation.  

In a Vogue US interview, Lagerfeld said, “I don’t make explanations of what I design. I am not a philosopher who leaves notes on seats. You watch; you can see what you want.”

This runway was more than just an ode to waterfalls. Presented just after Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma’s devastating effects on Puerto Rico and Florida, this collection celebrated both the beauty of water and its ferocity.  

The models’ dramatic, war-painted eyes, the glaring stares, and borderline snarls, were daunting too.  Wearing the dreamiest of dresses and lightest of pastels, models stood strong, and glared into the camera, as if to say: “Don’t mess with me.”

In a Fashion Network article, Lagerfeld is quoted saying, “There is no life in the world without water.”

Climate change is becoming an increasingly discussed topic, as well as an increasingly vital threat. In order to keep the world inhabitable long enough for our children, our children’s children, and so on, there needs to first be a greater appreciation for nature. The child model in this runway show reminds us of who will be living with the messes that today’s adult generation leaves behind.  

Perhaps those “Don’t mess with me” looks translate as “Don’t mess with nature.”


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