Photograph by: Francois Durand via Getty Images

Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows’ pays tribute to Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy

A new book by Rizzoli lays bare the incontestable influence the Kaiser had on the industry during his tenure at Chanel.

Rating: 65

The world of fashion lost its most legendary designer this year. Karl Lagerfeld was the genius responsible for shaping the industry as we all know it today. Up until the end, he would lead the houses he was constantly transforming (Chanel, predominantly, along with his eponymous label and Fendi).

I am a kind of fashion nymphomaniac who never gets an orgasm,” he once quipped. Lagerfeld devoted his life to fashion, and those who are truly passionate can certainly relate. Since his passing, the fashion industry has carried his myth over to new generations of design talent. The LVMH Special Prize now bears his name. The designer who was known to loathe nostalgia never kept archives and never participated in a showcase of his prolific career. Luckily, it has been reported that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is set to open a retrospective dedicated to the Kaiser in 2022.

Now, author Simon Procter has put together The Chanel Shows, a reverent tome featuring all the German polymath’s Chanel runway shows. 

During his tenure at Chanel, Lagerfeld managed to materialise his desires in order to create unforgettable fashion moments. In 2010, he imported 265-ton, 30-foot iceberg from Sweden into the Grand Palais – the icy colossus remained intact for the duration of the show thanks to a set temperature kept at sub-zero. Another memorable show would be the supermarket spectacle – with real Chanel-branded products. It happened when the fashion industry started to embrace Instagram (Eva Chen joined the platform to oversee its fashion division a few months later) and it will without doubt go down in history as one of the most iconic fashion shows of the 21st century. 

Lagerfeld understood that in order to stand out, his runway shows had to go viral. Following shows featured a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the Gorges du Verdon landscape, and a beach. There were also the Cruise and Métiers d’Art collections, which were presented abroad. Lagerfeld took Chanel to Seoul, Dubai, Singapore, Edinburgh, Cuba, and Dallas – to name only a few. Each presentation was a coup de force and Lagerfeld flexed his artistic muscles to provide the world with some much-needed escapism.

A posthumous last show reminded those who admired his vision that he would go down on top. In the Grand Palais, a wintery alpine village with chalets and a layer of powdery snow. Karl Lagerfeld was the magician of fashion, and this new book is a testament to his great creative mind.

Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows is available now.


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