Today, Paris will host the first Chanel couture show since the death of the illustrious Karl Lagerfeld, marking a new era for both the house and couture. At the helm of Chanel since 1983, Karl Lagerfeld became a master of couture; from spectacular settings to exquisite craftsmanship, Lagerfeld’s imagination had no limits when it came to the craft.
Each season, Lagerfeld would transform the Grand Palais into another world –extravagant sets became his signature. Some of the most memorable backdrops included: a rocket ship, a beach and a supermarket complete with Chanel branded products. For couture, Lagerfeld created a replica of the Eiffel Tower, built a life-size dollhouse and designed ‘Villa Chanel’ in a sun-soaked Mediterranean garden. The clothes often featured lavish embroideries by the atelier, for Spring 2019 (Lagerfeld’s last couture line) appliques were made of dried flowers painted with resin and the standout finale look comprised of an embellished bridal swimsuit. Lagerfeld’s death has, therefore, left a void in Paris Couture Fashion Week and the fashion industry.
However, Chanel’s new creative director, Virginie Viard, is expected to continue Lagerfeld’s legacy after working with the designer for over thirty years. Although the French-designer did take a bow at Chanel’s last couture show in January in the absence of Lagerfeld, Chanel’s Fall 2019 Couture showcase will be Viard’s first solo haute couture collection.
As the fashion world eagerly awaits her couture debut, what can we anticipate from Virginie Viard? With a background in costume design and haute couture embroidery, Viard worked in close collaboration with Lagerfeld since 1987, starting as his intern. Before Lagerfeld’s death, Viard was the director of Chanel’s creative studio and was responsible for bringing Lagerfeld’s concepts to life. Following in the footsteps of Lagerfeld’s established house codes, Viard has high standards to adhere to; we can expect her to continue to pay homage to the late designer, especially in her first seasons, before gradually filtering through her own vision.
Back in May, Viard’s first collection for the brand gave us a glimpse into Chanel’s future. Whilst she stayed true to Karl Lagerfeld’s aesthetic, femininity was more noticeable through bow embellished blouses and belts. Details like a hoop handle on an iconic quilt bag revealed Viard’s subtle stamp and dark floral prints added a fresh tone for the house.
Expected to be the highlight of Paris Couture Week, stay tuned for updates from the Chanel Couture Fall 2019 show by Virginie Viard.