A couple weeks ago, beloved couturier Karl Lagerfeld, a pioneer in the fashion industry and Creative Director of Chanel, passed away. He left Chanel in the hands of Virginie Viard, known as Lagerfeld’s “right hand woman.”
Now, the fashion world has been holding its breath, anxiously awaiting to see how Chanel proceeds. Interest—and speculation—has skyrocketed. We’re all looking backward, trying to grasp onto remnants from Chanel’s past with Lagerfeld. At the same time, What will Chanel do next? seems to be the question buzzing on everyone’s lips.
Even before Lagerfeld’s passing, Chanel was enjoying immense success. The brand’s runway shows—especially couture—have long been the highlight of fashion week (and Instagram). Lagerfeld’s shows were true spectacles, each another manifestation of his sartorial genius. Whether set among ancient Greek temples or Hamburg shipping yards, each was its own discrete, theatrical experience, with all the right details.
Yet Chanel’s success wasn’t just cultural. While luxury some traditional brands have struggled with changing economic times and millennial interests (read: Luxury in the Age of Millennials), Chanel has been opening new boutiques (read: Chanel Unveils New Boutique in Chicago And We Are Totally Crushing Over Boys) and seeing growing revenue (read: Chanel Pulls Back Its Financial Robe). Now, the question is how the absence of Lagerfeld will affect Chanel going forward.
Interest in Vintage Chanel
In the short period of time following Lagerfeld’s death, vintage Chanel pieces have been snatched up on the secondary market. As WWD reported, the brand is “entering a new phase of fandom.”
Searches for Chanel items on resale sites such as Depop, eBay and The RealReal have soared. At Depop, Lagerfeld came first of all searches, and Chanel moved to the top ten. There’s been a special focus on staple Chanel pieces from the nineties.
“We’ve seen increased demand for Chanel this week, particularly in clothing and handbags,” luxury resale site The Real Real said to WWD. “In apparel, customers are gravitating most toward classic tweed jackets and dresses, while handbag demand increased across both staples such as Flap and Boy bags as well as vintage and novelty styles such as the Hula Hoop and Lego Clutch.”
And this shift isn’t just online. Vintage brick-and-mortar shops are seeing it as well. “I’ve definitely noticed more interest in Chanel,” Brandon Veloria, cofounder of Manhattan vintage and contemporary preowned retailer James Veloria, told WWD. “There’s definitely been more people asking for it.”
Interest in Chanel’s New Collections
Now, we’re all looking to see what Chanel’s new collections and shows will have in store. The momentum from Lagerfeld’s passing is expected to propel interest in the next few collections. Recently, all eyes have been on the Chanel Fall/Winter 2019 show at the Grand Palais in Paris: the show marking the “end of an era.”
The show, set in a Tyrolean ski village, included Lagerfeld’s favorite muses, such as Cara Delevigne and Penelope Cruz. At the grand finale, the models and attendees teared up. The designs—supposedly Lagerfeld’s last—were classically Chanel and a huge hit. Vogue dubbed the show “heavenly.”
It was a fitting farewell to Karl, and a promising vision of what Chanel might have in store for future collections. Now, we just have to hope that Virignie Viard has, if not Karl Lagerfeld’s touch, his same playfulness, dedication to design and deep love of fashion. Only time will tell.
How do you think Chanel will change in the months following Lagerfeld’s death? Are you looking to grab pieces on the secondary market—and the remaining ones in stores—that he helped to create? Let us know your thoughts below, as this is a topic near and dear to our hearts.
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