With the departure of Karl Lagerfeld, not one fashion house, or even two, but three, was orphaned. And this is the case when the word "orphaned" does not seem like an exaggeration: when it comes to Lagerfeld, any big words, given the scale of the designer's influence, are surprisingly appropriate.
He worked at Chanel for 36 years. Fendi has been in business for over half a century. It is not surprising that during this time we got so used to their vision through the eyes of Karl Lagerfeld that it was difficult to imagine any other.
As blasphemous as it may sound, many associated the Chanel house primarily with Lagerfeld, and not with its founder Gabrielle Chanel. Although Karl, of course, took care of Coco's legacy, each season recalling one of the chapters of her biography. Just recall the 2014 Chanel Métiers d'Art show: it was held in Salzburg, the city where, according to legend, Mademoiselle Chanel invented the famous tweed jacket. An unexpected muse of the designer was the elevator of a local hotel, on which she saw a similar jacket with contrasting piping.
The location of another show - Dallas - was also not chosen by chance. Karl decided to remind everyone how the co-owner of the Dallas department store Neiman Marcus helped Chanel return to the fashion world after the disgrace. Would we have remembered these moments from the history of the house if Lagerfeld had not told about them? Perhaps the most inquisitive of us.
The fate of Chanel had the most questions. Even despite the fact that the name of the new creative director was announced immediately on the day of the death of the previous one. The connection between this house and Karl Lagerfeld was too established. And the style he formulated was too recognizable.
Among the possible successors were named Eddie Slimane, Albert Elbaz, Marc Jacobs and even Phoebe Faylo, but the head of the house was unknown to Virginie Viard. For the team itself, she, however, was not unknown: for many years Wiard was considered Lagerfeld's right hand.
There was no need to save Chanel at the moment when the name of the successor was announced. Things were going more than well. In 2018, its sales amounted to more than $ 11 billion, which is 10% more than the year before, and grew evenly in all markets. The management was also not going to sell a brand that managed to remain independent, unlike other players of this scale. As well as making drastic changes in the work. “Virginie knows by heart everything about the Chanel house, about Karl, about Gabrielle Chanel,” said Bruno Pavlovsky, president of the company's fashion department, about the appointment. "She's worked with Karl for the last 30 years." Obviously, what was expected from the new creative director was not revolutions, but the continuation of the old line: why change something that already works properly?
But there were still some changes. Karl Lagerfeld's collections were discussed not so much because of the design, but because of the scope with which he approached everything. The traditional venue for Chanel shows - the Grand Palais - was rebuilt at his request, turning it into a supermarket, then into a spaceport. And in any review, most of the text was precisely the descriptions of the new reincarnations of the old platform.
The collections themselves differed from each other mainly cosmetically: not in silhouettes, but in decor, with a new set of accessories - canister bags from the “Dubai” collection of Chanel are still remembered. These details were many, sometimes too much. The first thing Viard did in her new post was to get rid of unnecessary details, as if cleaning the picture. I removed everything that seemed excessive, refreshed the silhouettes: things became shorter, lighter and simpler.
1 of 7 Virginie Viard's first solo collection for Chanel, resort 2020 © press service Virginie Viard's first solo collection for Chanel, resort 2020 © press service Virginie Viard's first solo collection for Chanel, resort 2020 © press service Virginie Viard's first solo collection for Chanel, resort 2020 © press service Virginie Viard's first solo collection for Chanel, resort 2020 © press service Virginie Viard's first solo collection for Chanel, resort 2020 © press service Virginie Viard's first solo collection for Chanel, resort 2020 © press service service
Resort-collection 2020, the first show of Viard without Lagerfeld's support, was a definite success. The couture of the fall of 2019 looked fresh. For this show, the Grand Palace was converted into a library: both Chanel and Karl loved to read, about whose personal collection there were legends, but the heroines of the show did not look like nerds in the book dust. Bright suits with cropped jackets, long minimalistic coats, dresses with the right flowers and feathers, but at the same time not evoking longing - everything looked very promising.
1 of 6 Chanel Couture Collection 2019/20 © Press Office Chanel Couture 2019/20 Collection © Press Office Chanel Couture Collection 2019/20 © Press Office Chanel Couture Collection 2019/20 © Press Office Chanel Couture Collection 2019/20 © press service Chanel Couture collection 2019/20 © press service
Everyone was talking about the latest seasonal collection (spring-summer 2020), including because of the incident with the comedian who jumped onto the catwalk from the front row. As Vanessa Friedman noted, it was too easy for the girl to blend in with the crowd: her costume was not much different from the costumes presented by the designer himself. This sounds, perhaps, too - and undeservedly - harsh: Viard seems to be immediately signed up to the company of Maria Grazia Chiuri, who is collectively disliked by fashion critics. But there is some truth in this. The style of the new Chanel is easy to describe in comparison with the Chanel of Karl's time: more minimalist, more youthful. But so far it is difficult, if we consider it separately, to talk only about it.
“Virginie is doing a great job,” Bruno Pavlovsky said before her first screening, “and she's here for a long time. Maybe not for 30 years, but for a long time. When you're number two with Karl, you're invisible. But, like Karl, she knows how to anticipate trends, feel the spirit of the times - and understands Chanel. " He also noted that everyone was sad to say goodbye to the designer. But at the same time, it gave the team the freedom to start a fresh start. And I want to believe that Pavlovsky was right on all counts. And Viard just needs a little time to clearly articulate, outline his vision, take advantage of freedom. In the end, sales will decide everything - and the first figures will also have to wait for now.
At Fendi, they did not look for an outsider to replace Karl either. Silvia Venturini-Fendi, the heiress of the empire who was in charge of the men's division and accessories during Lagerfeld's time, took over the women's collections. She had known the late designer all her life: when he joined the team, she was about four years old. And for her, the farewell seemed to be the most traumatic. Sylvia has dedicated almost all of the Fendi collections that have come out since his death to Karl. But this seems neither strange nor surprising. And you can take this for trying to make money on a star name, you can only if you completely discard emotions - that is, it is hardly possible.
Fendi's first post-Lagerfeld fashion show took place two days after the sad news - Milan Fashion Week was in full swing. Karl himself, of course, worked on this collection. The memory was honored with the help of a video in which he recalls his first day at work in the walls of an Italian home. And in the smallest details - like the model of your tie at that moment.
The next show, autumn-winter couture, was also dedicated by Venturini-Fendi to the legendary designer. The show had 54 releases - one for each year of Lagerfeld's work. They were built on the iconic images he created during his cooperation with the house. What was the main component of his style? “A passion for breaking the rules, loosening boundaries,” Venturini-Fendi herself said after the show. "Nothing was impossible for him - and we all strove for it."
The final chapter in this long goodbye was the collection for the spring-summer 2020 season, on which the new creative director of the women's line worked completely by herself, without relying on the sketches of her predecessor. So this collection became a kind of premiere for her: “He was always the captain. My life has changed, now I make decisions. Previously, it was a dialogue all the time, a big dialogue. Today the responsibility is much higher, because the whole choice is mine - without compromise."
1 of 6 Fendi Collection Spring-Summer 2020 © Press Office Fendi Collection Spring-Summer 2020 © Press Office Fendi Collection Spring-Summer 2020 © Press Office Fendi Collection Spring-Summer 2020 © Press Office Fendi Collection Season Spring-Summer 2020 © Press Service Fendi Collection Spring-Summer 2020 © Press Service
The design of the show sounded hysterically sad and at the same time giving hope: instead of theatrical scenery, the space was decorated with the light of the setting sun, frozen at the very beginning of the podium. Well, the collection was primarily calm. It had a lot of earthly shades, soft textures, smooth lines. No sharpness, nor the geometry that Lagerfeld loved so much. And yet, one cannot talk about cardinal changes. If only because the image of Fendi in the eyes of the public was not imprinted as clearly as the image of Chanel. It was, let's say, much more blurred: fur, beautiful, luxurious, in some places 70s, graphics. But this is a rather general picture, which can be changed without any special risks and shocks.
The third fashion house left to us from Karl is Karl Lagerfeld. It may seem odd that a designer's own personalized brand is the last on this short but impressive list. But it was precisely on this position that Lagerfeld himself always put him in work, who gave all his creative energy to Chanel and Fendi, concentrating on the development of their heritage. The name brand sold not so much design as the image of Karl. After all, he was a character - bright and controversial, witty and tough, categorical and intolerant of many things. Not only his speeches were analyzed for quotes, but also his image. A black suit, a white shirt, black glasses, a white tail pulled by a black elastic band, proudly compressed thin lips, touching love for a fluffy cat - this is how we remember this man and will remember, even if we eventually forget his collections.
1 of 6 Karl Lagerfeld Collection © Press Office Karl Lagerfeld Collection © Press Office Karl Lagerfeld Collection © Press Office Karl Lagerfeld Collection © Press Office Karl Lagerfeld Collection © Press Office
Han Kim has been dealing with this brand since 2015. In addition, Karl Lagerfeld's longtime friend Karin Roitfeld constantly collaborates with him. And there is no doubt that this will continue to be so.
In memory of the late designer, Roitfeld, along with his other friends (from Kate Moss to Alessandro Michele), developed a series of white shirts. Seven of them were released in a circulation of 77 copies and sold for € 777, remembering the designer's love for this magical figure. The proceeds from the sale were donated to charity in the French organization Sauver la Vie.
This could be a beautiful ending to the brand's history, but it continues with new shirts and new notebooks with Karl's quotes on the covers. And this is correct, and not at all sad or tragic. Initially conceiving the signature brand as a merchandise-focused brand, Lagerfeld seems to be ideally prepared for his departure himself - just as he brought up a successor to the Chanel post in Viard.
We know many stories about how big brands, with the departure of their founders, lost both face and relevance, turning into their own sad ghosts. For this, the founder does not even have to die: let us recall how John Galliano's collections looked after John Galliano was excommunicated from him. Let's remember - and just be glad that Karl Lagerfeld will remain the same forever.>