Beyond his legacy was Karl’s controversy. He confronted the world and took his pen splashed in watercolor and crayon as his defense. On the clean ivory paper was the language that he delivered in poise, as genuine as the white of his hair. He was more than a figure of a prestigious house, a designer in a complicated industry or a simple icon whose articulate flairs in creativity can light the purest flames for those who believe in “working ethics”. He was a shining beacon of hope whispering a shared belief to a little boy who found merely an echo in his way looking into designs. It was Karl who showed me how a dress can be perceived in its complete system of communication that travels beyond distance, time, knowledge, culture or language.
For the first and the last time, in January, Mr. Lagerfeld didn’t take his bow at the show. Since then, I kept myself away from rumors that he might retire. Such rumor has been on the street for many years and failed itself. However, also for the first time, I wish the rumor was true. He was only retired not dead, just like Gabrielle Chanel who’s only sleeping (a sketch by Karl). Being a contributor who imagined all these high-profile shows, I’d assume Karl Lagerfeld wanted to close the curtain in a theatrical manner, no less grander than Yves maybe? Instead, he really disappeared without even making a final appearance, just like the jungle animals he appreciated (Suzy’s video). I was much convinced that he's still fiercely active by the time when his eponymous brand announced a collaboration with Carine. Now, the image of the tied white hair next to the smoky eyes will no longer be renewed after February 19, 2019.
Courtesy of Chanel.com
1983-2019 at Chanel
The sign was there actually. Although he described himself as a machine that doesn’t feel a thing, this utterly witty personality has certainly a bit of nostalgy. The atelier (Fall 2016 couture), the Ritz (Cruise 2017), the mirrored reflection (Spring 2017 couture), the hometown Hamburg (Cruise 2018), the childhood island Sylt (Spring 2019), maybe the space rocket (Fall 2017) as well. He took us back to the very beginning of the story of Chanel and then to his own, intertwined with his connection to how the new chapters began (Fall 17+18, Spring 18 couture). He would walk out with Virginie since Spring 2019, but then he didn’t walk out at all at Spring 2019 Couture. And he grew his beard back, just like the days when they were black as vinyl. The transparent glasses at the Spring 2019? Maybe it’s finally time for him to see this without filters again. Now, it all makes sense. Chanel might have been well-informed by his conditions, hence the decisions and arrangement. But the Kaiser never shows his fatigue.
January the 10th, 1971, Chanel passed away in her suite at the Ritz after she returned from work at the Rue Cambon. Things were normal as usual, she called out to Claude Delay that she would be back to work on time the next day when she bid adieu. She never showed up, as unusual as Karl’s absence. Mr. Lagerfeld worked until the end as if the very last day of Chanel's life when she set the final pin to her unfinished work. Without stones above her, Chanel had designed her tomb before she left. Dressing the angels in the sky, she’s now joined with Karl Lagerfeld. A partner in crime has finally arrived to add some spice to her afterlife. On the next morning after Chanel’s decease, the House of Chanel opened its door again. Without the spirit (or maybe actually with a spirit), the store set to work once again. Turned out, they were waiting for Karl whose arrival was delayed for a decade. The show must go on. Chosen from the in-house talents, Virginie took over Karl’s role to perpetuate the legacies and continue the fantasies. This position has so enchanted an allure that it takes a life time to finish,
a life time job that creates many more ______ (a blank for you to fill in).
In the sound of a snap, a life has moved its way to a better place while we are struggling to go over the borders with planes and trains. Chanel, who had loved so much, then loved only her work. As all her lovers, friends and rivals had died, she was like an abandoned child again but only left to the endless future other than the beautiful past. Karl certainly has changed a lot with life missed. You probably know about his anecdotes. But at his age, in-return meant less than a penny to him, he wanted to give. Be it love, humour, care or presents, he himself was the greatest persona gifted to us. He’s left us with more than just designs, but also idea, philosophy and vision that unlocks the future. Fashion of today is no longer thrilling like those of yesterday, their (Alaïa, Oscar, Manolo, McQueen…) being there is a reminder of the orgasm of yesterday’s fashion. One by one, their forward-going will be deeply missed, for the glory they made and shared with us. A new era of fashion will ring the bell soon, and they will probably swear up the clouds at us. It’s either going to be even more epic or awfully worse than hell.
I never thought of today’s coming as I never wanted today to come. But life is out of the reach of our humble hands. Karl Lagerfeld will forever be missed, and he would hate if we make a scene of crying. He was a personality no less easier than Gabrielle. I choose to be grateful for how much he has given us. This personal note is for the hero who showed me the magnificence of fashion.
“Karl me by your name.”- Sophie Fontanel