After missing the last Chanel Haute Couture show almost everyone knew something was off, Karl, in his almost 40 years at Chanel NEVER missed a single show. But, when the news of his death came up it was surely a shock, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t leave anything to us hold on to, besides his $200m fortune (which part has gone to his beloved cat, Choupette), he left us a last Chanel show, even not knowing it’d be his last.
He began working at Chanel as a creative director in 1983, 37 years ago, and he did not rest a single season. He was one of the last 20th century great designers still in the active. He did get a little “sloppy” in some of the collections, in his last few seasons, even though it was close to his death, it was not the case.
Karl came to Chanel in a rough time for the brand, nobody was paying attention to it anymore and it seemed that there was nothing to do for the brand.
After Coco died Chanel was manly focused on production of fragrances and accessories, the haute couture shows were copies of the late Coco Chanel designs with subtle changes and the pret-a-porter line was only launched in 1978, when most of the brands were already making money for it and had a solid consumer basis.
To revitalise the brand he created strict codes for the brand, such as the signature colours of the brand: black, white, beige, gold and red. The tweed, and made some products that spoke to the heritage of Coco be regularly produced like the little black dress (which wasn’t created by Gabrielle, but she sure made it her own), the tweed jacket, the Chanel 2.55 bag, bicolour ballerina shoes, massive gold fashion jewelry, large pearls, and more.
Every collection he kept the brand alive while still making sure that you could see the heritage behind it, if you only had seen the 40’s Chanel and someone showed you a piece of any Karl’s collections for the brand you’d be able to say that it was Chanel, even from the ones from the 2010’s.
And in this last collections you could see his muses (such as Cara Delevingne and Penelope Cruz) walking, the atmosphere was divine (as always), the scenario was a winter dream fantasy that could only have been made by Karl. The clothes were very Chanel and fresh, mostly white and black.
Karl brought back the relevance to Chanel, if without him the brand would never achieve the place it has today. Chanel today has the value of $8b and its on the #87 position of the worlds most valuable brands. And, not only that it is the most valuable brand in fashion on the whole world (followed by Louis Vuitton and Gucci).
Chanel today is the most important fashion brand, either you like it or not, all thanks to Karl Lagerfeld. Now that the brand is under Karl’s protégée we hope that she learned the best of him and will continue his legacy (or even starts her own).
by Ana Luisa Infante Malachias