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Fashion

Paris Fashion Stories, Episode 5: RIP Karl Lagerfeld

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Ready-to-wear autumn-winter 2019/2020. The world's most successful designers know it's a very clever move to have a signature look, and one overarching source of inspiration.

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On February 19, 2019, Karl Lagerfeld passed away in Paris. He was in his mid-80s – he was always very cagey about his real age, so we can’t be certain of it. During his 36 years as creative director at Chanel, he revolutionised the label made famous by Coco Chanel, but which, by the mid-1980s, had lost its way.

Lagerfeld revolutionised the world of fashion. He was the first designer to realise the importance of prêt à porter. It was he who shortened the fashion show format from 45 minutes to 12. He was the first to turn models into stars in their own right. He was also the first to embrace collaboration – for example, in 2004, he signed a contract with the masters of fast fashion H&M.

Lagerfeld always used to show his collections under the great dome of the Grand Palais (he transformed it into a beach and a spaceship among others) in Paris. It was in this same very space that his colleagues and clients held a minute’s silence in his memory, announced by Sebastien Tellier, on March 5, 2019. It was only then that Chanel’s models took to the runway, dressed up as a wintry mountain idyll.

Claudia Schiffer, Monica Bellucci, Virginie Ledoyen and Anna Mouglalis cheered as Penélope Cruz closed the show. Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman, Virginie Viard, will now take over the reins as Chanel’s creative head. In this edition, we also get a glimpse of some extraordinary archive footage of Lagerfeld winning a Woolmark design prize back in 1954. He was just 21 years old when his extraordinary career in fashion began.

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