Yesterday marked two weeks exactly since the passing of Chanel’s coveted designer Karl Lagerfeld. It also marked the first show in decades the designer wasn’t present for, as the house showed its Fall/Winter 2019 collection at its usual homestay, The Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées. Fashion patrons from all over the globe gathered to see the marvel that is, each season, the Chanel fashion show set. They also gathered to show appreciation for Lagerfeld, the decades of tireless and iconic work he put into the industry, and to enjoy, as much as possible, the last indelible collection he created for the house.
Since the early 1980s, those that were even remotely interested in fashion design knew of Largerfeld’s intricate exertion for Chanel. He created, most of the time from scratch or a sketch, wonderment. Yesterday, we saw the last of that legacy, first welcomed by a winter wonderland as far as the eyes could see in a recreated Alpine village. Snow-stopped mountains, peaks, and valleys were far and near in the distance, and a runway of snow blanketed the ground for the collection to parade down. On each seat, collection notes sat with a doodle of Lagerfeld and who appeared to be Gabrielle Chanel, with the words “The Beat Goes On…”
The show kicked off to a strong and powerful beat—models near and dear to the house, like Cara Delevigne, opening the romantic show from within the village’s Chalet Gardenia. We first caught glimpse of an edgy, elegant tweed fedora, and it struck an awakening. Long past is the masculine-meets-feminine juxtaposition of praise that once shocked us and marked Chanel as “Chanel.” Seen from the beginning, this collection was tidy and edgy, bold and elegant, flamboyant and constrained, loud and subtle, manly and ladylike.
We saw a palette of winter hues, like white, beige, gold, and grey mixed between pops of purple, brick red, emerald green, fuchsia, and navy blue. There were the anticipated flashes of tweed pieces in hounds tooth prints and large check motifs, too, and this time adorned with snowflakes on wide-cut, high-sitting trousers and overcoats. And each coat had its own special detail—one fastened high at the neck, another with a cape, and others trapeze cuts, faux-fur lapels (since the house broke ties with real fur), maxi pockets, double-breasted closures, and shawl collars.
With brazen looks full of masculine modernity, we also saw such illuminating sweetness in the collection. Sophisticated comfort took on new meaning, too. Knit pullovers and sweaters that dazzled with crystals were seen mixed between mountain outfits of down jackets and tri-colored tweed zip-up ski suits—paired with wide-cut leather pants or a pencil skirt. Knitted scarves with embroidered chiffon were seen, as were sautoir necklaces of chains and glass beads, white pearl earrings, and plastron necklaces. Scalloped collars on dresses and wool capes up top; white chiffon and guipure lace skirts and paneled lace at the bottom. With each look, there was a new discovery.
Accessories continued to mark each upcoming wish-list, too, including bags, jewelry, footwear, and even sports gear. The winter season tone guided the new bag collection, presenting itself in quilted leather in white or black, and an eye-catching tweed. The double-C clasps are interlaced with leather, and on some, there is a faux-fur flap. There are removable purses, attached to the smaller bags by a shoulder strap, hip bags, and camera cases in braided shearling. The three star bags, however, are unforgettable—the house’s new GABRIELLE bag in leather and checked tweed, and the 11.12 bag wholly embroidered with sequins, and the quilted 2.55 bag in a bold neon orange leather.
The finale was a heartfelt one for textbooks—a wave through a dark corridor of the Chalet Gardenia by the house’s Virginie Viard, and the cast’s last walk to David Bowie’s “Heroes.” The show concluded with a standing ovation, uncontrollable tears from the models walking and the guests standing in the crowd, and the house’s recent ambassador Penelope Cruz strutting her catwalk debut wearing an all-white look while carrying a white rose. As the end neared, guests grappled the last whit of what was left behind from the genius that was Karl Lagerfeld—an eternal creation, both him and his final collection.