Chalet Camelia. Winter wonderland. Houndstooth coats and tweed hats. Luxe knits and eternal CC logo. Snowball skirts and Choupette fluffiness. Penelope Cruz, Cara Delevigne, Adesuwa, Maria Carla Boscono, Mica Arganaraz, Kaia Gerber, Anna Ewers, Adut Akech and the Chanel girls. Thousand of tears dropped, from Michel Gaubert’s minute of silence to the model’s finale walk (some couldn’t hold the tears). But you surely know all this.
I doubt Karl Lagerfeld would want his last show to be a fussy, overemotional event. His last show was exactly how he planned it to be: as if it was his next collection for Chanel, another fantasy. “Oh! It’s like walking in a painting!” Farewell to the visionnaire, the most prolific, joyous, assertive and energetic designer the world has known, whether you agree with this or not. But those are facts. What will next seasons look and feel like without him? I’ve got no idea. It seemed like he was always there. On the show’s invitation there was Lagerfeld’s last illustration, captioned: “the beat goes on!“. He wanted it to go on, so let’s all look forward to Virgine Viard’s future for Chanel.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
The news of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing away broke more than a week ago, and writing about his very final collection for Fendi seems like a struggle of using the right tense. It’s unbelievable he’s no longer here, with us. I always thought Karl will be present, forever. And just like that, it’s a season without him and his guaranteed, confident presence. Fendi’s autumn-winter 2019 was a tribute that wasn’t entirely a tribute, since Lagerfeld worked on majority of the collection – even though he was aware that his health is dangerously stumbling. After the models walked the runway, Silvia Venturini Fendi took a grieving bow. Karl’s last instruction given to Silvia was: “I want the bow” at the neck of the opening look. That was a nod to his own, unmistakable look. It’s difficult to write about the clothes from this collection as if this was just another Fendi collection. There was lightness in the pleated skirts. There was impressive craftsmanship involved, like the laser-cut “lattice” jackets and dresses. And, of course, there was the FF type face used on pretty much everything. It came from Karl’s calligraphy for the house from 1981. The models – most of them owe the designer their success by being his Fendi or Chanel muses – were visibly very emotional, but they walked their best, for Karl. Since 1965, he’s been at the helm of the brand – it’s probably the longest relationship between a brand and a designer in history – and now he’s gone. Venturini Fendi is taking the lead of the brand’s creative direction, but let’s leave the questions regarding the future of the brand for later. Rome, the city were Fendi was born, is in mourning: the brand’s flagship store on Via Condotti covered all of its window displays with Karl’s sketches of his designs for the house. Chanel faces the painful loss too, so does Paris.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Chanel‘s Métiers d’Art shows are the only ones I look at. I love the craftsmanship involved here – it’s different level comparing to the ridiculous ready-to-wear collections, but looks more wearable than in the couture outings. This time, Karl Lagerfeld took his guests to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to pull off an Ancient Egypt-inspired collection. To be honest, most of the clothes looked hideous and even the beauty of the surrounding tombstones and artifacts couldn’t hide this fact. BUT. Some of the details were impressive. The Amarna-inspired make-up. The gold-painted legs of every model. And the opulent appreciation of jewels and everything that’s shiny – a feature of every Egyptian king and queen. Would today’s Nefertiti dress in a Chanel tweed jacket made out of golden threads? Absolutely yes. But will real Chanel customers be able to wear any of this without looking ‘dressed up’ for a theme party? Who knows.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Whenever Chanel does a pre-collection presentation, you know every single detail regarding it a month earlier. The press is burning with the show’s fancy, far-fetched location; Instagram feed is all in #chanel. This time, however, Karl Lagerfeld and the legendary French maison decided to slow it down a bit with their PR – or at least, stay at home. And specifically, in the newly re-opened Ritz hotel on Place Vendome, just a few steps away from the brand’s flagship store on rue du Cambon. Although you can’t call this ‘modesty’, going a bit more traditional than usual is simply… reasonable.
In fact, there were three Chanel shows in one day – the first was presented during a chic brunch; the second started at the time of lunch; and the last during a fancy dinner. The guests (everybody from the fashion editors to couture clients) had a way better day than you, that’s for sure. The clothes were excellent comparing to the last few seasons where Karl did literary everything, from a faux women’s protest to a glossy IT room. I guess it’s because Chanel looks best, when worn in real Paris, rather than in non-sense, meaningless venues. The dining rooms of Ritz perfectly matched Lagerfeld’s vision of cosmolitan elegance. Slouchy knitted cardigans and tweed pencil skirts; black tulle dresses styled with deluxe duvet jackets; shoulder pads and layers of pearl necklaces. According to the designer, the collection was an reflection of and ode to “people from all over the world who’ve come to the Ritz. There were hundreds of dinners in the ’20s and ’30s, where women wore incredible things.” But the most intriguing thing about this collection is the lack of the ’60s’, ’70s’ or ’90s’ tags, which are overused by others in the industry. “You cannot tell from the collection what decade it is, and I think that is modern“. Good point.