Karl Lagerfeld’s Final Goodbye

Paris Fashion Week (PFW) started with a sombre mood as Chanel will present what is officially Karl's final collection.
Thursday 28 February 2019
Chanel's final show under Karl Lagerfeld will be held next week at Paris Fashion Week. Photo: AFP

Legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld’s recent passing sent waves throughout the world and for those at Paris Fashion Week (PFW), it seemed like no one was ready to say farewell just yet. The mood was sombre as Chanel will present what is officially his final collection.

The fashion icon best known for reviving Chanel in the 1980’s has shaped luxury fashion and made high fashion more accessible to the masses. His right-hand woman at Chanel, Virginie Viard has taken over the reins at Chanel, will present Karl’s final collection on the last day of the Paris Fashion Week shows on 5 March.

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Karl Lagerfeld walked the runway with fashion studio director of Chanel Virginie Viard and his godson Hudson Kroenig during the Chanel Metiers D’Art 2018/19 Show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Photo: AFP

It’s not clear how much of the collection was created by Lagerfeld, who died aged 85. He was also creative director of Fendi and his own eponymous label. The workaholic German, who always insisted that he would design until he dropped, drew his creations by hand and then handed them on to Viard to realise. He had leaned heavily on Viard, his head of studio, in his final months. “I understand him and I can sublimate what he wants to do and bring to Chanel,” she said in a 2015 interview with AFP on what made the duo tick.

Their three-decade partnership was the motor that drove a constant reinvention of the brand during Lagerfeld’s 37 years in charge. The creator was cremated on Friday “without ceremony” – as he had requested – in the presence of Viard and a handful of his closest friends including Princess Caroline of Monaco and fashion’s most powerful man, LVMH tycoon Bernard Arnault.

Following health complications in January, Lagerfeld was admitted to the American Hospital of Paris on 18 February. He died there the following morning from complications of pancreatic cancer. Lagerfeld requested no formal funeral, just a cremation amongst close friends and his ashes spread at secret locations alongside his mother and late partner, Jacques de Bascher.

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Lagerfeld took to the runway after the showcase of his Chanel 2017-2018 fall/winter Haute Couture collection. Photo: AFP

Chanel would not comment on whether next week’s show will include a homage to Lagerfeld, saying only that “a farewell ceremony will take place at a later date”. Under Lagerfeld, Chanel staged spectacular shows at the vast Grand Palais in central Paris.

But illness stopped him from attending its haute couture show there in January – the first time he ever missed a Chanel show – with Viard taking the bow at the end. At October’s spring-summer show, Lagerfeld went out of his way to acknowledge Viard, who took the bow alongside him.

Related: Karl Lagerfeld: Death of an Icon