Paris’ Grand Palais, the regular setting for the design house’s runways, was transformed into a winter wonderland yesterday for Chanel’s AW19 show, resplendent with snow-capped mountains, working, steam-emitting log cabins, and faux alpine upholstery. Titled ‘Chanel Gardenia’, models decked out in the designer’s final collection included a star line up, with recent Lagerfeld muses Cara Delevingne and Kaia Gerber taking the lead, alongside surprise guest Penelope Cruz, a brand ambassador since last year. A one-minute silence preceded the show, followed by the posthumous sound of the designer’s voice; a final podcast recorded for the brand allowed his dulcet tones to be projected into the space as the models began to trickle out.
The fashion was classic Karl – bouclé suits a plenty, a largely monochromatic palette, flamboyant details (taffeta ruffled collars, layers of pearl necklaces, unexpected tweed hats) – and some rather fabulous references to the snowy setting, with ski suits and boots getting a surprising Chanel twist. Described by Vogue’s Sarah Mower as ‘Lagerfeld at his uplifting best’, imaginative, dream-like ready-to-wear combined with a show-stopping setting for what the designer would have engineered to be a fitting last hoorah.
Fans of Chanel’s spectacular shows shouldn’t be too worried – Lagerfeld’s longtime right-hand woman Virginie Viard has been appointed as his successor, meaning we can be safe in the knowledge his legacy will be respected and, fingers crossed, lived up to. But as the audience and models alike broke down in tears during yesterday’s finale, there’s no doubt his absence will be felt for a long time to come.
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