Karl Lagerfeld’s final Chanel show is a winter wonderland of alpine ensembles
In Lagerfeld Confidential, the 2007 Rodolphe Marconi-directed documentary exploring the mesmeric world of Karl Lagerfeld – the famed fashion designer, who joined the house of Chanel in 1982 – reveals that at times, entire collections and their accompanying show sets come together in his dreams.
It’s serendipitous that those lucky enough to attend a Chanel show under Lagerfeld’s tenure also noted a suspension of reality. Before each show, guests mused on what the interplanetary, continent-spanning and infinitely evolving imagination of the German couturier had in store. In recent seasons, the maison’s enormous showspace at the Grand Palais in Paris, has been transformed into the Gorges du Verdon, complete with cliffs and flowing waterfalls, a space station with an cylinder-firing Chanel rocket and autumnal woodland populated with a blanket of burnt orange leaves and towering oak trees.
As guests entered the show space for Chanel’s A/W 2019 show – the final designed by Karl Lagerfeld and his successor Virginie Viard, before Lagerfeld’s death at the age of 85 last month – they were greeted with a picturesque alpine scene. Powdery snow lined the ground, and pine trees, lamp posts and snow-topped chalets populated the space. It was amidst this winter wonderland, with log cabins’ chimneys emitting plumes of smokes and Chanel branded skis stuck in the ground, that models walked.
The start of the show was marked by the romantic tinkle of wind chimes and the gentle patter of glockenspiels. A moving minute silence for the late couturier, followed, then an audio recording of Lagerfeld himself, discussing the creative evolution of Chanel, and touching on the uncertainty he met when initially taking the reigns of the brand. His final closing statement ‘Oh, it’s like walking through a painting,’ – a description the Queen Mother offered about his vision for Chanel, spoke a thousand words. It poignantly summed up the creative brushstrokes and colourful landscapes that defined his runway shows.
Models exited from the door of a chalet at the head of the catwalk, clad in elegant alpine ensembles, like chunky Nordic knits, bouclé overcoats, swishy houndstooth skirts and cosy magenta capes. They stood assembled at the helm of the runway, before meandering through the blanket of snow on the catwalk.
The final series of evening looks, which included snow queen-worthy puffball skirts and chic trouser suits were imagined in an icy white colour palette. Chanel ambassador Penelope Cruz took a turn on the runway, carrying a single white rose. At the show’s finale, models walked with linked arms in groups down the runway, touchingly wiping tears from their eyes, to David Bowie’s Heroes, the song which also marked the finale of the Fendi show last month, where Lagerfeld was also creative director.
Lagerfeld was adamant that fashion was about looking forward. ‘No congratulations. It’s already history, what counts is the next collection,’ he told then Chanel president Arie Kopelman in 1985. An illustration designed by Lagerfeld, placed on the seats of guests echoed this sentiment. It featured a sketch of Coco Chanel and Lagerfeld accentuated with the words, ‘The beat goes on.’ §