Everybody who is anybody in the fashion world was present at the vast Grand Palais in Paris earlier this week for the memorial of industry legend, Karl Lagerfeld. In a spectacle not too dissimilar to his acclaimed fashion shows, Lagerfeld was honored in all his glory. Portraits of the designer framed the famous venue. A host of the best designers, models and fashion critics turned up to the ‘Karl For Ever’ event to pay their deepest respects and, above all, to celebrate a man they truly loved.
Lagerfeld, who died in February aged 85, enjoyed a full career in fashion. He was the creative director of luxury French fashion houses, Chanel and Fendi up until he died earlier this year. The two houses came together to host the memorial and honour the man who redefined the fashion industry and the houses at which he worked.
The designer played a crucial role in both house’s development and in creating and sustaining a strong brand image. Reflecting on Lagerfeld’s design of the double-F logo for Fendi back in the ‘60s, Silvia Venturini Fendi told WWD, “It’s something that will stay forever, which is why we are here today, because someone like Karl will be here forever.”
Fashion insiders turned out in droves to commemorate the beloved designer. Nothing epitomized Lagerfeld’s lasting influence on the fashion world than newcomers joining industry veterans to pay their respects. Model of the moment Gigi Hadid and ’90s supermodel Claudia Schiffer both attended to pay homage to the late Lagerfeld.
The event embodied Lagerfeld in a similar way to how he embodied the class and sophistication of the fashion houses he headed. The Head of Communication and Image of LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, Antoine Arnault, was in attendance. Looking around the Grand Palais and smiling he simply told WWD, “It’s nice to see him again”.
A giant screen at the venue displayed some of Lagerfeld’s most memorable shows. Highlights included the Fendi show held on the Great Wall of China and, of course, the multiple transformations of the Grand Palais, which he could turn into anything from a beach to a supermarket. Let’s not forget his installation of a gigantic cruise ship or a replica of the Eiffel Tower!
Speaking about the Grand Palais, designer Jonathan Anderson declared, “We are in his setting. He owned it ‘til the end.”
The evening featured performances from the likes of model Cara Delevingne, musician Pharrell Williams and actress Dame Helen Mirren who were eager to celebrate Lagerfeld’s intelligence and wit.
The event was about Karl as an individual on a personal level however it was so much more than that. Karl very much embodied the fashion brands he headed and therefore it seems only natural that the event was also a celebration of the fashion houses he helped shape.
The Chanel autumn/winter 2019 collection, Lagerfeld’s final collection for the brand, was praised by the fashion crowd. The collection, entitled ‘Chanel in the Snow’, incorporated all the classics that Chanel and Lagerfeld are known for, for example signature tweed. Seen as the designer’s farewell to the fashion industry, the show’s finale was meet with an emotional standing ovation from the audience.
Fashion designer Virginie Viard worked closely alongside Lagerfeld and succeeded him as Chanel’s new artistic director. She told WWD, “Together, we created the most beautiful collections that we could and today, I’m trying to continue so that everything is perfect for him”.
While the fashion industry’s beloved genius may be gone, his memory and work most certainly live on. Lagerfeld’s work for some of fashion’s most respected houses has undoubtedly changed the industry in ways that can’t quite be put into words. If the designer’s memorial showed us one thing it is that all those who knew him are not going to let go of the lessons he taught them but instead work to preserve his legacy.
What are your thoughts on Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, will Chanel ever be the same again? Let us know.