Hold your breath. Count to three. And you find yourself in a world of pure imagination.
Chanel’s show last night for Paris Fashion Week opened with a tributary moment of silence to the industry’s fashion icon, Karl Lagerfeld. In the immense Grand Palais on this 63-degree day, the crowd hushed and remained as still as its alpine, mountain village setting. Between each row of wood chalets, close by each smoking chimney, amongst the vast expanse of winter wonderland-inspiring pine trees, onlookers found themselves stunned throughout the show with their breaths being the only visible traces of movement. Amongst those who attended the Fall 2019 show was Anna Wintour, Kristen Stewart, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, and Monica Bellucci.
Lagerfeld took over the Chanel house back in 1983, following a successful run at Chloé and Fendi. He remained the brand’s creative director up until his death a mere two weeks ago. Decades ago, everyone told the creative genius, 'Don’t touch it, it’s dead.' This did not deter Lagerfeld. He propelled the brand to where it is today, making it a prominent, internationally-respected, luxury name whose quilted bags, strings of pearls, delicate camellias, and tweed suits are some of the most sought after hallmark pieces in fashion today.
"He worked until the end—I think that’s fantastic," English model and actress Naomi Campbell told reporters. "Our whole industry is going to miss him. I mean, I worked with him on and off for 32 years and he became an institution. You just thought he would never leave, that he was immortal."
The energy of the show continued in this respect of entrancing mesmerization. Each and every piece of decor from the snow-topped houses hidden within mountain peaks (Lagerfeld is known to have loved the snow and used to hurry to take photos whenever it fell over Paris), to the collection itself was reflective of something the design legend has created over the years.
On each of the wooden village, seats was a press kit with a sketch tucked inside that, in Lagerfeld’s hand, showed the designer standing alongside the brand’s founder, Gabrielle Chanel with a caption that read "The beat goes on…" And so it did…
The show featured some of the German designer’s longtime muses walking together, united. One such figure was Oscar-winning actress, Penélope Cruz who promenaded down the runway modeling wedge boots in an ice princess mini skirt of layered feathers. The house ambassador, white rose in hand, is quoted to have shared some heartfelt last words on Lagerfeld: "I felt like laughing and crying at the same time, to see all these people who loved him so much celebrating him together. But seeing all this, also it’s the beginning of something else, all that he’s created over all these years." Some other members of the cast included Cara Delevingne, who opened the show in a floor-sweeping coat over a checkered jumpsuit of tweed in black and white that was accessorized with a matching hat and a long string of beaded Chanel necklaces. Mariacarla Boscono, Amanda Sanchez, Soo Joo Park, and Anna Ewers were some of the other faces that sauntered down the runway, all paying tribute to the late Lagerfeld’s enduringly powerful legacy.
The collection itself was classic Chanel, a subtle nod to fashion’s ultimate role model. The first few looks of the show featured a pure black and white palette, signature of Lagerfeld’s designs. The series of tweed and pied-de-poule looks was followed by Swiss Alps-wear done in the elegance and luxury of Chanel in an array of neon pinks and bright purples, oranges, and reds on a range of garments including puffer coats, below-the-knee skirts, knitwear and sweater dresses.
The last looks of the show were in all white. They were angelic pieces of tailored suits, feathered skirts, and diamond-studded cocktail dresses. The show received a tearful standing ovation with Cruz and a throng of Chanel darlings reappearing on the runway to bid an emotional farewell to Lagerfeld, whose contributions and daring boldness will not be forgotten and which will continue to be reflected in the industry for generations to come. The show was, just as Lagerfeld himself is recorded o have said preceding the show, "like walking in a painting." A painting that we are still not willing to walk out of just yet.