Set in an alpine wonderland, the collection was an ode to the designer who imbued the fashion house with so much creative energy.
They came dressed in black.
Many of the celebrities and fashion editors in the front row at this morning’s Chanel fashion show arrived in black to mourn the death of Karl Lagerfeld, the creative force who had helmed the brand for the last three decades.
Kristen Stewart, in a quilted Chanel catsuit, Marion Cotillard, Lara Stone and Karen Elson all sat front row in black ensembles as a sign of respect for Lagerfeld. On their seats was a sketched portrait of the designer and Coco Chanel accompanied by the phrase “the beat goes on”.
But the Lagerfeld tributes didn’t simply span the front row. The catwalk show began with a minute of silence in memory of the designer. Each model walking in the show stood at the end of the set, which was designed with trademark Chanel detail to mimic a snow-dusted alpine wonderland, to observe the minute’s silence. The fashion show began when Lagerfeld’s own voice rang out through the speakers.
And so commenced Lagerfeld’s last collection for the fashion house, designed before his death on 19 February. It was a parade of apres ski-inspired looks, largely in a monochromatic colour scheme and accessorised with reams and reams of pearls.
Cara Delevingne opened the show in a houndstooth coat and jumpsuit, with models Kaia Gerber and Soo Joo joining her on the catwalk later. Penélope Cruz, clad in a sugarplum white ensemble, walked the runway for the first time with a rose clutched in her hand.
By the time the show reached its finale, in which models linked arms and walked en masse to the strains of David Bowie’s We Could Be Heroes – the same song used during the finale of Lagerfeld’s final Fendi show – several of the audience members and models were in tears.
Walking side by side with Delevingne, longterm Chanel muses Mariacarla Boscono and Catherine McNeil wept openly on the runway.
For Delevingne, this was an opportunity to say goodbye to the man she has called a mentor.
“Every time I try and write about this man, all I do is cry,” she wrote on Instagram. “He changed my life, he believed in me when so many others didn’t including myself.”
Delevingne continued: “He is a visionary, a genius but more than that… a dear friend… I am so lucky and grateful to have had him in my life, worked with him and been able to spend time with him. Although now, I wish it had been more. His legacy will live on forever. I miss you more than I could every try and describe. I wish I had been able to tell you how much you mean to me. I love you. All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart.”