“the beat goes on...” – karl lagerfeld just shared his final chanel message
Tears were shed during his final Chanel act as the CC-branded torch was passed onto his closest collaborator for more than 30 years, Virginie Viard.
Image courtesy of Chanel
After he revived the house that Coco Chanel built, Karl Lagerfeld’s final act for the iconic Paris-based house was always going to be emotional. Since his appointment in 1983, King Karl has reigned over Chanel. Fusing Cocoisms with Karlisms, he helped turn fashion fairytale into fashion reality as he radically renovated a storied but relatively dormant haute-couture house into a global megabrand with $9.6 billion in annual sales. “People tend to forget,” the designer famously recalled, “that once upon a time, Chanel was old hat. It was only Parisian doctors’ wives who still wore it. Nobody wanted it, it was hopeless.” Thanks to him, now the world wants Chanel.
In his final sketches, shared with autumn/winter 19 showgoers, he doodled himself in conversation with Mademoiselle Chanel with the simple message: “The beat goes on…” The house soundtrack that he helped mix echoed throughout the Grand Palais, as his final collection, co-designed by Virginie Viard, his closest collaborator for more than 30 years, provoked a standing ovation and teary eyes. The legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld will live on, but there will be a Karl Lagerfeld shaped hole in the fashion industry.
“My job is to propose a fantasy,” he explained to Monocle’s editor-in-chief, Tyler Brûlé, in Chanel’s latest episode of its 3.55 podcast series. The interview, one of Lagerfeld’s last, was recorded before Chanel’s Métiers d’Art show, which was presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in December 2018, but this message resonates with his entire 6-decade spanning career. From a rocket launchpad to a street protest, a fairground carousel to a supermarket, a bistro to an airport, Karl Lagerfeld continually reimagined the Grand Palais over the course of 12-plus-years worth of epic experiences at his favoured show venue.
He reimagined the fashion show from niche showcase into blockbuster entertainment. Following spring/summer 19’s Chanel-on-sea beach scene, his final show retreat transported us to an Alpine town in winter. Before his last epic unfolded, there was a minute silence that gave us all a moment to reflect and pay our respects. Then Lagerfeld’s voice played over the tannoy, as he was fittingly given the last word. From the moment Lagerfeld muse Cara Delevingne opened the show in a power tweed suit through to the surprise appearance of Oscar winner and recent campaign star Penelope Cruz as a snow queen carrying a single white rose, this was a sombre, sweet, snow-covered farewell.
Set within the winter wonderland landscape, with its mountain backdrop and catwalk lined with chalets and skis (Chanel, obvs), the collection led to a standing ovation from the CC-clad frow as tearful models applauded Lagerfeld and the house he rebuilt during an emotional finale, soundtracked by David Bowie’s We Can Be Heroes. For many, Karl Lagerfeld was a hero. The beat undoubtedly goes on but fashion has lost one of its most talented producers.