Karl Lagerfeld was an art director of Chanel for more than 35 years, and thus his name became a synonym of the brand. In contrast to other two brands where he was a creative director, Chanel announced the name of Karl’s heir, or in this case – a heiress, immediately after his death. Virginie Viard will again be Chanel’s new creative director. This seems like a practical and logical solution, although her name is not widely known outside of exclusive high-fashion circles. Still, those who are acquainted with the situation say that, at the moment, there’s nobody else who would better safeguard Chanel’s future stability.

Viard worked with Karl for more than 30 years. Her previous role at Chanel was that of a studio director, meaning that she was responsible for transforming Lagerfeld’s fantasy into reality.

Basing herself on Karl’s sketches, Virginie collaborated with studios and performers, coordinated teams, selected materials, and negotiated with suppliers. During the process, she, of course, tried to please him but also to surprise him and surpass his expectations.

One can wonder, however, whether for a fashion brand like Chanel, it would have been better and somehow more organic to hire a new design celebrity, as Dior did with Raf Simsons, or to have somebody from the brand who would continue the existing vision. Chanel appears to be a brand that clearly chooses stability over some shiny revolution. And this is obviously a tested formula since Chanel, after all, shares with Louis Vuitton the title of the biggest luxurious fashion brand in the industry.

It’s possible that the selection of Virginie Viard goes hand in hand with that question that is so frequently asked in Chanel: What would Coco say?

On the other hand, Karl’s own brand still didn’t announce who will succeed him. ‘We are currently mourning, and we will make all the decisions later’, said the team from that brand. Karl managed to build a very creative team there, including the well-known Hun Kim, a design director, and Carine Roitfeld, ex-editor of Vogue magazine who plays a major role in the creative process.

While Chanel was quick at announcing who will succeed Karl, the Italian fashion brand Fendi, which Karl led for more than 50 years, does not seem to be in a hurry. Silvia Venturini Fendi, the granddaughter of the brand’s founder, managed to expand her influence in the past few years, so it would not be that odd if she took the creative leadership.


A party for grownups
Lagerfeld’s spring collection for Fendi in 1993 caused great controversy because one of the models was an Italian adult movie star, which is just a nice way to say a ‘famous porn actress’. Anna Wintour made a dramatic exit from the Milan show when Moana Pozzi showed up on the runway. Wintour and Lagerfeld later managed to reconcile and she continued considering him a loyal and important friend.

The little black jacket
Chanel’s re-designed iconic black jackets were a huge fashion hit. A whole book was written about them. In the book The Little Black Jacket, Lagerfeld and French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld joined forces and presented 21 photographs of celebrities who were stylized by Roitfeld and wore this legendary piece of clothing.

Choupette the cat
There are not many cats who have their own maids, who travel in private planes, who have an Instagram profile and their own Wikipedia page. Still, Lagerfeld’s cat reached that point of fame. The cat was given to him by a model, Baptiste Giabiconi, in 2011, initiating the ‘cat fever’. For Numéro magazine, Lagerfeld said that Choupette stole his heart because she is “pretty and she observes the world carefully and keeps her balance, but her main quality is that she does not speak”. At one moment, he said he would marry the cat if that were legal. Who will now care for Choupette is still not known.

Supermarket chic
Lagerfeld was famous for creating gigantic fashion scenographies and marvelous shows at Grand Palais each and every Parisian week of fashion.  The presentation of the autumn/winter 2014/2015 collection was a memorable event, where the Grand Palais in Champs-Élysées got turned into a supermarket and where everything was specially designed for this show.

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