We can think that Chanel is in good hands today. Sadness lingers, as we remember designer Karl Lagerfeld’s passing. He was a large personality with a large ego and an even larger list of accomplishments. He saw the world in differentiated perspectives, as he moved in his fashion universe.
The way I see it, he had an even greater sense of marketing, than his skills as a designer. He seemed to have his finger on the moment in fashion, that created endless surprises. We couldn’t wait to see, what theme his next collection would feature. We wanted more and more of the clothes, the bags, the accessories, he dreamed up. He created a fashion empire not just a brand.
I remember the opulent Resort 2013 collection for Chanel, reminiscent of Queen Marie-Antoinette, staged in the gardens of Versailles, or the famous “Yellow” beach collection at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes. Another one of my Favs, was the walk on the board walk in St. Tropez with the 70s Hippie vibe, or the runway where the whole collection including the viewers, were inside a mock-airplane, bathed in blue light. Then, there was the sumptuous Couture collection 2012, inspired by the Maharaja Splendors of Rajasthan, India, where models walked along a banquet table dripping in jewels.
Chanel as a brand, was revived and reborn when Lagerfeld infused his creative energy. I remember a quote, he said,
…”I ask myself, what would she have done, when I design, or look for inspiration…”
What would Gabrielle Chanel have done, indeed?
I think, she would have sat on the steps in her shop on Rue Cambon and applaud at the exuberance and crazyness at times. Lagerfeld took us on so many journeys when he showed his collections. He reminded us that we can take inspiration from history, nature, an object, from every day life, or from a burst of colors, or a feeling. He made Tweed something Millenials and even younger girls want to wear today. Punk and chains worn with Tweed and lace became elegant. Raffia, fringed denim, bird feathers, transformed a bag or a dress. Recently, owls and plastic spinners were integrated as buttons in a single collection. Only Lagerfeld could imagine something this diametrically opposed.
Sometimes, I had my moments, when I was quite critical about some inspiration. Often, the arc of time for some styles, from the 1880s to the future, in one collection was quite broad for me to follow, conceptually. Yet, he was one of the Greats, who showed us new directions by using mundane objects of the moment, and made them elegant.
We will miss him. Now, when we remember the great moments of surprise in his collections, when he transformed the Grand Palais in Paris into yet another wonderland scene, we can feel a nostalgic vibe.
The next time I move my fingers over the soft leather of a Chanel bag, I will think of Karl with a happy feeling, as I remember him when he said:
…”What is important is that Today is good…”
He was right. Live in the moment. While we move along the Seasons, anticipate yet another Chanel collection, another interpretation of a Tweed jacket.
Cheers to Karl. Long Live the King. The brand is in good hands today, as his inspiration illuminates the future for Chanel.