At the end of the Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2017 show, Karl Lagerfeld was awarded the Grand Vermeil Medal by Mayor Anne Hidalgo
Items that once belonged to late designer Karl Lagerfeld are set to be auctioned across Europe. In a series of eight auctions, Sotheby’s will sell his estate which includes collectibles, fine art, furniture, personal items, and the possessions of his beloved cat Choupette.
Lagerfeld at Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2017 show, walking with Hudson Kroenig, the son of Brad Kroenig – one of Lagerfeld’s long-standing muses-in the Chanel SS 2011 show. Hudson walked with Lagerfeld during his last runway for Chanel.
The auction house stated, “Sotheby’s is paying tribute to this genius of a designer with the sale of over 1000 lots from his residences in France and Monaco, an anthology of his personal taste but also of his life and career. Divided between Monaco, Paris, and Cologne, the sales are in his image, multiple and surprising, telling the story of the couturier, the collector, the decorator, and the photographer.”
Carla Fendi, Life President of the Board of Directors for the Fendi Group of companies with Creative Director of Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld, 1992. Getty
Noteworthy items include art from Takashi Murakami, champagne buckets by Martin Margiela, chrome dumbbells by Aston Martin, a Zenith Chair by Marc Newson, as well as the famed Jeff Koons painting Dom Perignon Balloon Venus. Also on auction are his personal items such as linens, and Rolls Royce cars. The clothing lot includes his trademark fingerless gloves, suit jackets, and accessories from designers Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Comme des Garçons, and a jar containing starched, white collars synonymous with Lagerfeld’s distinct personal style.
Lagerfeld was the creative director of Chanel, from 1983 till his passing in 2019. Alongside that, he also had his highly regarded eponymous label and was also the creative director at Fendi. The auctions for his items will be commencing in Monaco from December 3-5, Paris on December 14-15, and Cologne, with dates yet to be announced for the same. There will also be an online auction with two sessions from November 26 to December 6, and December 6-16.
Read Next: Karl Lagerfeld: Get to Know the Man Behind the Platinum Ponytail
At the end of the Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2017 show, Karl Lagerfeld was awarded the Grand Vermeil Medal by Mayor Anne Hidalgo
Exclusive: Amber Valletta on Her Favorite Memory of Karl Lagerfeld and Her Passion for Sustainability
Amber Valletta. Photo: Courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld muse, model, and longtime sustainability campaigner Amber Valletta has joined forces with the designer’s namesake brand to create accessories for the Spring 2021 season. Made with socially sustainable materials sourced with minimal ecological impact, the collection comprises a range of small accessories including a reusable water bottle, zip wallet, cardholder, face mask, washbag, and the highlight: A reimagined house classic, the K/Kushion bag.
We caught up with Valletta to learn more about the collaboration and a quick-fire round of This-or-That to know some of her favorite things.
How did the collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld come about?
When I had my online store called Master & Muse, we wanted to do collaborations with designers that were sustainably made and beautifully designed. Karl was the first designer I asked to collaborate with, and he said “Yes!” I was elated! Unfortunately for reasons beyond our control, the collaboration didn’t happen at that time. However, I continued discussing with Karl and the Karl Lagerfeld family, and it became clear that we all wanted to find a way to work together and bring something modern and mainstream to sustainability in fashion.
The collaboration focuses on accessories that are sustainably sourced and produced. Why is this important to you?
It’s undeniable that we are in a climate crisis. I believe that the only way forward in fashion is to recognize our industry’s part in contributing to that crisis. This means designing, sourcing, and producing clothing and accessories that are thoughtfully made with innovative and sustainable materials. Karl was such an inspiration to me in this regard, because he designed classic forms but was always thinking outside of the box. He was a true innovator. This collaboration is exciting because it shows that we don’t have to sacrifice great style to make responsibly made fashion.
The vegan cactus leather K/Kushion bag. Photo: Courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld
How would you suggest styling the K/Kushion bag?
The K/Kushion is such a cool and easy bag, and I feel it can be effortlessly worn with so many looks. I see the sleek black bag as a dressy statement piece. The green pleated style as an everyday chic bag, and the neutral cotton has more of a summer vibe. All three are great for travel, too!
Why are you passionate about environmental sustainability and socially responsible fashion?
I believe there is no bigger existential threat to the world at large than the climate crisis. Fashion is one of the largest and most important industries on the planet and has the opportunity to be a real game-changer in solving this crisis. I believe most people want to buy things they feel good about, without harming people or the planet. Making fashion with the well-being of people and the planet in mind will ultimately benefit everyone!
Can you highlight some of the ways you’re involved in sustainability projects, particularly in regard to socially responsible fashion?
I am the first and newly appointed Contributing Sustainability Editor for British Vogue. I am on the board of FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and am their sustainability ambassador. I use my platform and leadership to educate and build awareness about the interconnectedness of fashion and the climate crisis. I also have a production company that has produced a series of short films called Driving Fashion Forward about fashion and sustainability, plus a film for The Sierra Club called Reinventing Power. We continue to look for opportunities to produce engaging and awareness-building content about fashion and the environment.
Photo: Courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld
So far, what has been the highlight of working with Karl Lagerfeld the brand?
I love being able to continue the legacy of Karl — chic, bold and innovative! The Karl Lagerfeld brand is not only cool, but also accessible, which inspires me. I’m excited to see how thoroughly the Karl Lagerfeld brand is researching sustainable practices and materials. They continue to impress me with their knowledge and commitment to design, and producing in a new and conscious way. I know first-hand that meaningful change takes time and effort, and the Karl Lagerfeld team is showing up fully! I really enjoy working with all of the Karl family as I see their true desire to change and grow as a brand.
Do you remember the first time you met Karl in person? If so, what do you remember?
Goodness, it was so long ago! I remember his keen eye and curious mind asking questions while doing a fitting for him at Chanel. And, of course, the fan!
What is your favorite memory of Karl?
My favorite memories with Karl are from the fun dinners he would host at his home in Paris. We ate at this elaborate table that was shaped in a circle with another inner circle on top that you turned to share food. We laughed and listened to Karl tell us stories engaging all of us in his mesmerizing world. He was one of the most knowledgeable and interesting people I have ever known.
What three words would you use to describe your style?
Cool, rock-and-roll, thoughtful.
What’s the best styling advice you ever received?
Less is more.
(Outside of a pandemic) what is your favorite city in the world to visit?
What is the one item you always pack in your suitcase?
Outside of work, what are your hobbies?
Reading, knitting, gardening, bugging my dogs, little art projects, sports.
Phone call or text?
Heels or flats?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Books or movies?
Summer or winter?
Ocean or mountains?
Mountains against the ocean.
Coffee or tea?
Read Next: Amber Valletta Teams Up with Karl Lagerfeld to Create an Eco-Friendly Accessories Collection
Amber Valetta with the Karl Lagerfeld x Amber Valetta K/Kushion bag. Photo: Courtesy
Karl Lagerfeld muse Amber Valetta is honoring her enduring relationship with the late designer and her commitment to sustainability with an eco-friendly collection. Valetta first met Lagerfeld in the early 90s during a Chanel fitting and has since been a friend of his eponymous brand. Now, the British model, activist, and longtime sustainability campaigner has joined forces with the house to create accessories for the Spring 2021 season that are made with socially sustainable materials sourced with minimal ecological impact.
Photo: Courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld
Speaking of the collaboration and her connection with the designer, Valetta says, “Karl and I had so much history together, and I’m excited to be partnering with his namesake brand for a project that’s so meaningful to us both.” She adds, “When I received the first proposals for the co-branding and saw our names together, I was very touched and even emotional.”
While the collection comprises a range of small accessories including a reusable water bottle, zip wallet, cardholder, face mask, and washbag, its highlight is the reimagined house classic, the K/Kushion bag. “The K/Kushion bag is such a versatile style, and I love how ours will be made with innovative materials and respect for the environment,” says the model.
Photo: Courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld
The mindset behind creating the bag is conscious of the environment starting from the materials it is created with, to the way the profits generated from its sale will be used. Profits generated from the sale of the K/ Kushion bag will be used to make an independent donation to The Ocean Cleanup, a charity that aims to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.
The vegan cactus leather K/Kushion bag. Photo: Courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld
Available in two eco-friendly material options, the first version is made using vegan cactus leather that is environmentally sustainable and recyclable. Engineered by Desserto in Mexico, the plant-based material does not need any irrigation and is cultivated without herbicides or pesticides. The second is crafted with 90% recycled cotton that has been certified by the Global Recycle Standard (GRS), an organization that sets requirements for third-party accreditation of recycled content. The decorative cord detail it features is also made using the same cotton.
The 90% recycled cotton K/Kushin bag. Photo: Courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld
The silhouette of the bag itself is inspired by an accessory that is known to be very personal to Lagerfeld. The K/Kushion bag’s voluminous shape and pillowy soft texture take on that of the tailor-made cushion that Karl Lagerfeld had kept with him since his childhood and took with him to his trips around the world.
After years working alongside Karl Lagerfeld, Virginie Viard is quietly and confidently reimagining Chanel for the house’s next chapter.
Chanel creative director Virginie Viard and her son, Robinson Fyot, in Paris. Photographed by Anton Corbijn
Virginie Viard, the quiet, creative force behind a stealthy reimagining of Chanel, may be a woman of few words, but she doesn’t mince them. Her conversation, as her friend the model and music producer Caroline de Maigret says, “is the opposite of small talk. She doesn’t know how to fake it.” Viard vividly remembers her first Chanel show, a campy Karl Lagerfeld haute couture extravaganza staged in the late 1980s that she was taken to as a treat by the father of a family friend. The collection was all hats and gloves and models, including Inès de la Fressange and Marpessa Hennink, vamping for the runway photographers. What did Viard make of the collection? “Horrible!” she says now, matter-of-factly. “So old.”
Viard’s trajectory has taken her from Lagerfeld’s invaluable Chanel studio director – he famously described her as “my right arm… and my left arm” – to, following his death in February 2019, the creative director for the brand, in a transition of such seamless elegance that it might have been constructed in the house’s fabled haute couture workrooms. If fashion’s chattering classes were expecting the famously private Wertheimer family, who own Chanel, to install another boldface name to replace Lagerfeld, there were plenty of clues to indicate that they would opt for continuity and reward experience and expertise instead – not least that Lagerfeld himself brought Viard, who had worked for him since 1987, out to share the applause at the last two collections where he took a bow.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, the house’s vaunted founder, altering one of her signature tweeds in the 1960s. Photo: Hatami/Shutterstock
Standing in the long shadows cast by Lagerfeld and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel – two of the most formidable creative forces of the 20th and 21st centuries – Viard, 58, who might be the least famous designer in fashion at its most famous house, is shy and almost self-effacing in comparison. “She’s action versus talk,” says the actor and Chanel brand ambassador Kristen Stewart, who adds that Viard “embraces otherness – she herself is quite strange in a beautiful way.”
Born in Lyon, France’s storied textile center, to parents who were both doctors, Viard moved to the small regional city of Dijon when her father was appointed to the city’s hospital. As a child, Viard would sometimes dress up as a nurse or doctor and accompany him to the hospital to cheer up some of his patients, but she never intended to follow her parents into medicine. “I love meeting doctors; I love speaking with them,” she says now, but she long ago decided that “fashion is easier!”
At 20, Viard, who was taught to sew by her mother, established a label, Nirvana, with a friend, making clothing using fabrics produced in her grandfather’s textile factory. Like the young Gabrielle Chanel, Viard preferred working with jersey “because you don’t need a special cut – the body gives it the shape” but later honed her pattern-cutting game at a local fashion school. (She also worked as a Saturday assistant at a local costume-jewelry store, though “I was never actually selling anything,” Viard recalls. “I was afraid of the customers! But I was redoing the shop and the windows all the time – red one week, green the next.”)
Paris eventually beckoned, where – through her well-connected Lyonnais roommate – Viard found an internship with Jacqueline de Ribes, the city’s queen-bee socialite, who had recently decided to parlay her consummate taste and flair for fashion into a brand of her own. “We were working in her house,” Viard recalls. “All the fabrics were laid out on the bed, and the photocopy machine was in the bathroom. I was the assistant to three people – we were four in total.”
Soon she moved on to become an assistant to the costume designer Dominique Borg, acclaimed for her work on such movies as Bruno Nuytten’s Camille Claudel and Claude Lelouch’s Les Misérables, and discovered what she felt was her true calling. Her family, meanwhile, had long since moved to a country house in Burgundy, where their neighbor – the aide de camp of Monaco’s Prince Rainier – soon met Karl Lagerfeld, a Monegasque resident and intime of Princess Caroline, the prince’s daughter, and boldly asked him whether he needed an intern. Fatefully, he did. Viard duly went to rue Cambon to meet Lagerfeld’s aide de camp, the patrician Gilles Dufour, who hired her on the spot.
“Immediately Karl was asking me, ‘What do you think of this?’ ‘What do you think of that color?’ I was so embarrassed,” Viard recalls. Her internship soon morphed into a full-time job. “Karl clicked with Virginie immediately,” says Eric Wright, another pillar of Lagerfeld’s design team. “There’s always been this calmness to Virginie that’s very, very discreet, but her presence and her energy are very, very strong and very influential.”
At the time, the team was small: Besides Dufour and Wright, there was a ready-to-wear assistant, an accessories designer with an assistant, and Victoire de Castellane, Dufour’s high-spirited niece, then responsible for Chanel’s larger-than-life costume jewelry. Viard soon saw an opportunity that appealed to her training in costume design and her meticulous organizational skills.
“My chance was that nobody was in charge of the embroidery,” she says, and so she would be dispatched to work with the formidable François Lesage of the storied embroidery workshop. “He and Karl were two egos,” Viard recalls. “Ooh-la-la! I had to be diplomatic!”
Viard relished her interactions with the extraordinary characters who provided Chanel with a treasury of handcraft. The button-maker Monsieur Desrues, for instance, who would arrive every day at twelve, bringing his suitcase, which might be empty but for one jewellike example of his art, wrapped in a piece of paper, or Madame Pouzieux, who wove extraordinary braids for the Chanel suits in her atelier above her farmhouse stables in the depths of the French countryside. “I would receive her samples,” says Viard, “and they would smell of her horses… Luckily, I love horses.” (In recent years, Chanel has acquired 38 of these endangered Maisons d’Art, or craft workshops – including feather- and artificial-flower-makers, custom milliners, glovemakers, pleaters, and textile and footwear designers – and 11 of them will soon be consolidated in 19M, a vast dedicated hub in the north of Paris scheduled to be unveiled next year.)
Viard, fitting model Malika Louback in a look from Chanel’s spring 2021 collection. Photo: Benoit Peverelli, Courtesy of Chanel.
In 1992, Karl Lagerfeld returned to Chloé, the house whose romantic and poetically retro style he had defined from 1964 until he left to join Chanel in 1982, and he brought Viard with him. “Whatever you do, just surround yourself with tons of women,” the pragmatic Lagerfeld advised Wright. “Different personalities of women: That way, you feed off one another.” In 1993, Vogue profiled Viard as an It girl who exemplified the spirit of Lagerfeld’s newborn Chloé. “I adore dopey things!” she told the writer Charla Carter, who noted the collection of snow domes, the green plastic frog telephone, and the papier-mâché cactus in her eclectic red and yellow-striped decor, which was painted by Stefan Lubrina (who is now responsible for the epic Chanel sets) to evoke the work of the Bloomsbury artists.
“I never wore Chanel, even when I worked there!” admitted Viard at the time: Sybilla, Helmut Lang, John Galliano, and Martin Margiela were her designers of choice. “I like the occasional funny wink,” she noted, “but nothing too artificial. I guess you could say I like things that are stylized but real.” Viard’s electric aesthetic, including what she calls “flea market hits,” was exemplified in such looks as the red panne velvet pajama pants she wore with a man’s white cotton undershirt – was soon reflected in Lagerfeld’s boho Chloé collections.
At Chloé, Viard kept nocturnal hours. “Karl was arriving really late,” she recalls, “sometimes eleven o’clock at night, because he had Chanel all day and [his brand] Lagerfeld.” His design sessions were set to a soundtrack of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the grunge music that Viard loved. (“Music-wise, she’s very rock and roll,” says de Maigret, “and she always likes when people have that side to them, that little extra something.”) Afterward, she and Wright would head for late-night dinners chez Natacha, the fashion world’s eatery of choice at the time. Wright was impressed by Viard’s network of actor friends, who would often join them. “Vincent Lindon, Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Adjani – they all trusted her advice of what to wear, how to dress,” Wright says. “All of the young actors that are part of the French film establishment now trust Virginie enormously.”
By the late 90s, Lagerfeld decided to bring Viard back to Chanel. “The only thing I wanted was to stay with Karl,” she says, “because when I came back to Chanel, it was not the best time. I remember a show when Karl wanted just neoprene. I tried to make him love tweeds and all that because… neoprene at Chanel, the new molded bag? Horrible! We had to go back to the romance!”
“You can tell the moment Virginie arrived back,” says Wright, “because things became more pure, more fluid. She loves luxury in clothing – the craftsmanship, the beauty. But she’s always been incredibly practical.” Viard’s particular brand of French bohemian style soon quietly influenced Lagerfeld to reshape the Chanel aesthetic. “She loves things to fit easily, with this ease and nonchalance. Virginie was finding a freshness for Chanel.”
These qualities now define Viard’s approach as creative director. “I remember one time asking Karl, ‘Oh, can’t you make a classic little shirtdress like this [vintage] one?’” recalls Sofia Coppola, who interned at Chanel herself in the 1980s. “And he’s like, ‘No – we never look back. We always are going forward.’ Virginie’s into revisiting things, but she always makes them look fresh – it’s her version of it. It doesn’t ever look like a replica.”
Coppola art-directed Viard’s pre-fall 2020 Métiers d’Art collection, named Paris-31 rue Cambon, recreating the Chanel couture salon with its famous staircase and walls of faceted mirrors – installed so that Gabrielle Chanel could spy on the reflected reactions of her audience while remaining unseen – in the Grand Palais. (The distinguished decorator Jacques Grange is currently renovating the original – transformed for Lagerfeld into a modernist black-and-gray set by Christian Liaigre in the early noughties – to reflect Viard’s taste by evoking the salon’s original 1930s atmosphere.) Coppola suggested that they hold the dinner and after-party at the legendary 1920s restaurant La Coupole, an evening that provided a riotous glimpse into Viard’s rock-chick world when the young Belgian singer Angèle sang and the legendary French crooner Christophe surprised the crowds by performing an impromptu set of his own. (Christophe succumbed to Covid-19 earlier this year, and Viard opened her spring 2021 collection with one of his songs.)
As a prelude to the Paris-31 rue Cambon project, Viard arranged a rendezvous with Coppola at the Patrimoine, on the outskirts of Paris, where the astounding Chanel archives are preserved in museum-like conditions. “Virginie pulled up on a motorcycle messenger, hopped off, took off her helmet, and was like, ‘OK, let’s go,’” Coppola recalls. Viard took Coppola through the endless avenues of closets, pulling such wonders as Chanel’s silk pajamas, or a 1960s suit with an Op Art tie-dyed silk blouse and matching jacket lining. “She took so much delight in showing me all these treasures,” says Coppola. “It’s just fun – someone that loves Chanel so much and wanted to share that.” The 1960s suit lining led to a tie-dye section in the collection. When the archive’s director, Odile Prémel, has an important new acquisition, she will bring it to Viard and the premières of the Chanel ateliers so they can study the technique. “It’s like a private lesson,” says Viard. “J’adore, j’adore!” There is more opportunity to explore Coco’s legacy when Viard and I are taken around the exhibition “Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto” at the Palais Galliera, Paris’s dedicated museum of fashion, emerging from a two-year renovation underwritten by Chanel. Viard is entranced by the miraculous 1920s dresses that evoke Lagerfeld’s Chloé aesthetic, and by such wonders as a 1934 pewter sequined evening jacket, worn over a pleated crepe skirt, and Chanel’s own ivory silk daytime pajamas. “It’s so modern,” says Viard. “This is what makes her really close to us.” (“Gabrielle wanted to be free – she wanted to be able to jump on a horse, and go dancing like crazy, and then go to work,” says de Maigret. “And so she invented comfortable clothes. Virginie is answering the same question of what we want now.”)
At the end of the tour, Viard, deeply moved, struggles to express her thoughts. “It’s two whole lives of creation,” she says. “I remember some sketches of Karl, some collections, that I now realize were inspired by one detail or another that I’ve seen here. It’s her life. It’s his life.”
Before she leaves to return to her fittings, Viard stops in the gift shop to buy postcards that she will include with the flowers she will select at Lachaume and send to each of the atelier heads after the collection is finished. Above her mask, Viard’s eyes twinkle with delight at the thought.
Viard and the late Karl Lagerfeld, whom she first joined at Chanel as a studio intern in 1987. Photo: Courtesy of Chaos
Just how has Viard’s promotion changed her life? “I work more,” Viard deadpans. “I work all the time. It’s as if my grandparents had given me their fabric house and I wanted it to be the best – I wanted them to be happy. I’m often asking myself, ‘Karl, what do you think? Is it OK?’”
On the eve of Viard’s spring 2021 ready-to-wear show, the fabled Chanel studio is humming with activity. Almost all the pan-generational assistants are women, and the deeply collaborative Viard is keen to have their input. Many have been with Chanel for decades. Photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin have come to show Viard the stills from a series of three short promotional movie teasers they have produced, riffing on an iconic image of Gabrielle Chanel with her arm thrown over the back of a chair. They are now ensconced in a comfortable high-back sofa that has been placed against the wall at the end of the studio where Lagerfeld once sat sketching furiously away at his desk. Viard, it seems, rarely sits: She is too busy engaging with and styling the models in the dressing room at the opposite end of the studio, pondering whether to add a veiled 1930s-style hair band or a baby-pink or pearlescent-pink quilted purse to an ensemble. “Not everything suits everybody,” Viard explains, “and if they don’t feel comfortable in the clothes, I change the clothes.” The models range from Amanda Sanchez, who has been the house model for 19 years, to Louise de Chevigny, who was discovered, as Viard notes, by Chanel alum Inès de la Fressange for her eponymous brand’s catalog. “I adore her,” says Viard of de Chevigny, noting that she resembles the powerfully chic women who stalked the 1980s fashion runways or Helmut Newton’s photographs of that period. “We have a lot of French this time,” says Viard proudly, delighting in the fact that international travel restrictions have meant that she has had to cast closer to home.
“She loves the models,” says Van Lamsweerde. “She gets obsessed, and she wants to make them more beautiful, to feel good, look good – there’s a real generosity there. Virginie’s vision is so much more about a life and what you wear in it, rather than trying to make statements about fashion or change. They’re not concerned in this company with, Are we relevant? They’re not torturing themselves. It’s much more about supporting the life of the woman who buys her clothes. It’s a very feminine approach.”
For the collection, Viard has tapped into her passion not only for movies but for actors. Van Lamsweerde did a deep dive into Romy Schneider in Visconti’s Boccaccio ’70 and Delphine Seyrig in Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad, both of whom were memorably dressed by Gabrielle Chanel herself. As they soon discovered, however, Viard – whose movie tastes run from French Nouvelle Vague to the 2019 Les Misérables (directed by her friend Ladj Ly, whom she met through Pharrell) – was “drawing her inspiration from today: actors on the red carpet or going to the airport or for a Starbucks,” as Van Lamsweerde says. “It’s more like a wardrobe for different moments in a woman’s life or in a day. There’s a sense of freedom there – it’s just unapologetic Chanel.”
Viard (center, in denim jacket), flanked by her muses and collaborators. From far left: Director Ladj Ly; actor Suzanne Lindon; singer Angèle; musician Sébastien Tellier; Viard’s son, Robinson Fyot; model Mona Tougaard; writer Anne Berest; and model, author, and friend of the house Caroline de Maigret. Photographed by Anton Corbijn
Although she is now the creative director for a multi-billion-dollar global brand and her workload has changed exponentially, Viard has resisted any effort to adapt her private life. While Lagerfeld famously surrounded himself by turns with world-class art deco treasures, then museum-quality 18th-century decorative arts, then state-of-the-art contemporary design, Viard lives in the same artist’s atelier in the unfashionable 14th arrondissement that she bought 20 years ago and sees no reason to upgrade. “I love it,” she explains. “Karl was always laughing because I never wanted to change anything: If I bought a new car, it was exactly like the old one!”
Viard spent lockdown with her partner, the composer and music producer Jean-Marc Fyot (whom she describes as “mon fiancé”), and their 25-year-old son, Robinson, in their modest village house in Drôme Provençale. When Viard bought it some two decades ago, Fyot described it as “a squat,” although Viard has since made some home improvements. Fortunately, Viard was between collections when France went into strict quarantine, having recently launched the Métiers d’Art collection and planned the spring 2021 ready-to-wear. In the country, she distracted herself with bicycle rides, swimming in her pool, and cooking and cleaning. “It de-stresses me to see the results,” she explains.
When she returned to Paris and a studio full of masked accomplices, Viard plunged into work on the eclectic spring 2021 collection, which she is now unveiling beneath the writhing art nouveau ironwork of the Grand Palais against a set that mimics the iconic Hollywood sign but spells Chanel.
“It’s a very different season,” said the show’s producer, Etienne Russo, “but we have to adapt.” Fyot is on hand for support, rock-star chic in skinny black leather jeans and a hoodie under his daytime tuxedo, while Viard, dressed to match in a lean black Chanel coat to the ankles, narrow pants, and patent Chelsea boots, is preternaturally calm: She has done this dozens of times before, of course, and the Chanel machine ensures that everything happens like clockwork even while the support teams are all masked and the models have been tested for Covid.
The collection begins cinematically with Christophe’s music, which appropriates some lines from an old movie – Viard thinks it is Max Ophüls’s 1955 Lola Montès – and she is thrilled that the final grouping of Jazz Age black and white ensembles that she sees on the monitor reminds her of the stylized blocking in Marienbad.
Viard, who disdains personal social media and would still rather stay in the shadows, winces before she steps front of stage for the necessary bow. “She wants her work to be in the light, rather than her,” says de Maigret. “I find it so modern.”
Backstage, Viard’s friends congratulate her. “It’s glamorous and luxurious,” says the musician Sébastien Tellier, “but it’s a caress – it’s light, it’s super sweet.” As Kristen Stewart, watching across the Atlantic, puts it: “She’s really finding herself and projecting her voice as an artist. I can hear it loud and clear.”
Read Next: Karl Lagerfeld’s Most Spectacular Chanel Runway Show Sets
Originally published on Vogue.com
As all 27 editions of Vogue around the world unite under the single theme of creativity, we pay homage to the trailblazing talents who foresaw fashion’s future and made it a reality
Courtesy of Conde Nast Archive
The challenge: describe the role that fashion’s most creative thinkers have played in the major cultural advances of the past century without using the adjectives ‘groundbreaking’, ‘trailblazing’ or ‘gamechanging’.
We’re all familiar with the roll call — Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada, Rei Kawakubo — the figureheads among fashion’s intelligentsia who have each changed the way we think about the world. But, when exactly did their leaps of creativity occur? How did they overrule societal norms? And, whose noses did they put out of joint at the time?
As all 27 editions of Vogue around the world unite under the single theme of creativity this month, we pay homage to the groundbreaking, trailblazing, gamechanging minds who foresaw the future and made it a reality.
These are the 13 moments that changed fashion forever.
Denise Poiret in 1919. Courtesy of Keystone-France
1911: ‘King of Fashion’ Paul Poiret and the birth of the fashion editorial
“More than any other designer of the 20th century, Paul Poiret elevated fashion to the status of an art form” — so goes The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s official strapline for the radical creativity of the Parisian couturier. The Costume Institute’s 2007 exhibition themed in his honor was aptly entitled Paul Poiret, The King of Fashion — his was an ultra-revolutionary reign.
May, 1913: French comedian Cora Laparcerie (1875-1951) as Myriem in a costume by Paul Poiret for the play Le Minaret in Paris. Courtesy of Apic
When Poiret wasn’t staging decadent society balls as an ingenious means to show off his latest designs among his monied clientele, he was doing away with corsets, procuring celebrity ambassadors (enter French stage star Gabrielle Réjane) and officially becoming the first couturier to launch a perfume line. The lightning-rod moment that would change the face of fashion forever came in 1911 when fine-art photographer Edward Steichen shot Poiret’s designs for the April issue of Art et Décoration magazine, in what is now understood to be one of the earliest fashion editorials.
American Vogue 1932. Courtesy of Edward Steichen
Later, in 1932, Steichen would take American Vogue’s first color photo cover, depicting a swimsuit-clad model working out against an azure-blue sky for the magazine’s July issue. The 1929 stock-market crash would force Poiret to shutter operations for good, but his enduring creative legacy would remain the blueprint for a billion-dollar industry that was yet to emerge.
Illustration by Condé Nast.
1926: Coco Chanel’s LBD is introduced to the world in the October issue of Vogue
“These women, I’m bloody well going to dress them in black!” Chanel, ever the iconoclast, famously declared. The result was the LBD, a design that typified Chanel’s egalitarian intentions, announced to the world via an illustration in American Vogue. The artwork depicts a long-sleeved, knee-grazing black dress. The silhouette is demure, conservative even, by today’s standards. Rewind to 1926, however, and the dress epitomized the liberal spirit of the Roaring Twenties. Chanel had flipped the script, dismissing class-driven notions that black clothes were the uniform of house servants and funerals — a move that would become the key to her success.
Photo by Cecil Beaton.
The 1930s: Elsa Schiaparelli headlines artist collaborations, humor, and whip-smart ingenuity
The Italian-born designer, who made fashion an indissociable part of one of the 20th-century’s greatest art movements, surrealism (epitomized by her 1937 ‘lobster dress’, a collaboration with Salvador Dalí) began with the utilitarian, sporty knit. “During the war, it wasn’t all glamor. She did Hollywood, but also sportswear,” Schiaparelli’s granddaughter Marisa Berenson told Suzy Menkes in 2003. Amid the prohibition era of the 1920s, the designer employed her wit and design acumen with fabled results — “that dress to hide a whisky flask,” Berenson remembers.
Model wearing a Dior decollete dress in 1947. Photo by Nina Leen
1947: Christian Dior unveils the ‘new look’ (and women everywhere want it)
You can’t help but imagine that Dior knew something enormous was about to happen while preparing to reveal his debut collection on February 12, 1947. History remembers the 90 silhouettes that made up the SS47 couture collection, a show that will forever remain one of fashion’s greatest premieres, simply as the “new look“.
The couturier, who had established his atelier at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, just weeks before, in December 1946, signaled a mood-raising fresh start for women everywhere, drawing a line under the austerity of the second world war with a silhouette that luxuriated in femininity and celebrated womanly proportions — the generously full skirt, hourglass waist and trim, sculpted shoulders. A new era had begun.
A model stands on a staircase wearing a Dior suit for Vogue, 1947. Photo by Serge Balkin/Condé Nast via Getty Images
1954: Karl Lagerfeld begins his career in fashion as Pierre Balmain’s assistant
Decades before Karl Lagerfeld would ascend to Kaiser status at the helm of Chanel in 1983, the young designer would learn the ropes in the shadow of Pierre Balmain — the architect-turned-master-couturier whose designs were described by Diana Vreeland as “the very quintessence of haute couture.” For Lagerfeld, Balmain’s atelier would have been an electrifying invitation into a creative epicenter where costuming stars, including soon-to-be global cinema sensation Brigitte Bardot, was part of his daily duties.
Karl Lagerfeld after winning the coats category in a design competition sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat. The win in 1954 led to Lagerfeld being hired as an assistant to Pierre Balmain. Photo: Keystone
1961: Roy Halston Frowick designs the pillbox hat Jackie Kennedy wears to her husband’s presidential inauguration
The midwestern milliner who made a name for himself at Bergdorf Goodman in New York rose to become a household name thanks to one very high-profile client. As the world watched John F Kennedy take the presidential oath, his wife, Jackie Kennedy, would likewise be anointed global cultural icon status.
Halston matched the pillbox design to the duck-egg blue coat by courtier Oleg Cassini — a strikingly ‘clean’ look that was specifically crafted to convey the first lady’s modern outlook. Viewers worldwide leapt upon the hat, an achingly straightforward design that Kennedy accidentally dented during the inauguration ceremony while warding off the wind. “Everybody who copied it put a dent in it,” Halston noted. Eight years later, in 1969, he would launch his mononymous fashion label, Halston, becoming the unofficial outfitter of the Studio 54 era through his signature ultra-luxurious, languid designs.
Washington DC, January 1961: John F Kennedy and wife, Jackie, set off for their inauguration ceremony at the White House. Courtesy of Bettmann
1966: Yves Saint Laurent blurs fashion’s gender lines
The star look of YSL’s FW66 collection, ‘Le Smoking’, was the first tuxedo specifically designed for women — a design influenced by the men’s black-tie suiting worn by artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
The name itself refers to the jacket’s silk lapels that allow for the ash of after-dinner cigarettes to be easily dusted off. In many ways, 1966 seems strikingly late for such a landmark milestone. This was, after all, also the year that thigh-grazing hemlines became the staple of ‘mod’ style, as suburban teenagers and voguish twentysomethings everywhere adopted (and imitated) Mary Quant’s miniskirts. Even against the progressive backdrop of the 1960s, the women’s tuxedo remained a left bank rite of passage, perfect for the androgynous-leaning designs of the ingenious Saint Laurent. Three decades earlier, in 1933, the Paris chief of police had threatened to arrest actor Marlene Dietrich for daring to wear a men’s suit.
Paris, 15 February 1967: an alpaca dinner jacket, jabot blouse and black silk bow-tie for Yves Saint Laurent SS67 haute couture collection. Courtesy of STAFF
1974: Beverly Johnson is the first black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue
“Shifts significant enough to challenge the status quo don’t come around often, but in 1974, when Beverly Johnson appeared on the cover of [American] Vogue’s [August issue], it was a landmark moment. It had taken more than eight decades, but finally, a person of color was fronting the world’s foremost fashion magazine,” Vogue’s Janelle Okwodu wrote in 2016.
To say that Johnson endured the rejections of an industry where racial discrimination was visibly rife is an understatement — an experience that would power her work as an activist and champion of civil rights. “Every model’s dream [is] to be on the cover of Vogue,” Johnson told CNN. “You have arrived when you [make] the cover of Vogue. And then when I found out I was the first person of color on the cover and what that meant, I was like, ‘Wow, this is really a big deal.’”
August 1974: Beverly Johnson is Vogue’s first black cover star. Courtesy of Francesco Scavullo
1976: Calvin Klein is the first designer to show jeans on the runway
In a move that we would today call ‘reading the room’, a young Calvin Klein put workaday denim on the runway. His jeans would, of course, go on to spur a global empire all of their own thanks to one of the 20th century’s most provocative ad campaigns, but look closer and Klein’s early 1970s jeans offered another stroke of genius. His name was stitched on to the right buttock pocket.
1976: Patti Hansen in an ad for Calvin Klein jeans.
1978: Miuccia Prada takes over the family-owned luxury accessories business
The youngest granddaughter of Mario Prada had visionary plans for the family’s Milan-based operations. Prada would show her first ready-to-wear collection for FW88 — a runway show steeped in graceful, yet attitudinal silhouettes.
“I’m not a fashion designer, I’m who I am,” she reportedly told critics within the company at the time. In the same admission, she went on to reveal her creative sweet spot. “I love to be in that place between displeasing people but intriguing everybody, probably. To do something normal that looks deeply strange.”
Italian fashion designer Miuccia Prada adjusting clothes on Italian-French top model Carla Bruni. Photo by Vittoriano Rastelli
1982: Rei Kawakubo shocks Paris Fashion Week
“In 1981, when Rei Kawakubo started showing her Comme des Garçons collections in Paris, she already had a loyal Japanese following known as ‘the crows’,” Vogue’s Laird Borrelli-Persson wrote in 2017. Kawakubo’s artistic exploration of the color black was an established signature of her own eminent style and that of her early fans (of which she had many). If the 1980s was the era of Wall Street excess, Thatcherism and flashy power suiting, Kawakubo’s instinctive work was the counterpoint. News spread fast through Paris Fashion Week’s gilded salons.
Comme des Garçons spring/summer 1995. Photo by Guy Marineau
From the moment she first began making clothes in the 1970s, Kawakubo’s aim was to design for a woman “who is not swayed by what her husband thinks”. She had no formal design training, as writer Judith Thurman noted in her 2005 profile for The New Yorker, which was an asset when establishing one of fashion’s most revered avant-garde enterprises. “She often says that she’s grateful to have skipped fashion school or an apprenticeship because, in the end, even if she can’t sew or cut a pattern, she had no preconceptions to unlearn and no master to outgrow.”
Alexander McQueen’s Central Saint Martins graduate show in 1992.
1992: Alexander McQueen graduates from Central Saint Martins
McQueen’s prodigious talent for mythologized storytelling was already in full flow by the time he’d finished work on his 1992 CSM graduate collection. The designer, who had honed his skills as an apprentice on Savile Row, entitled his end of year coursework, Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims.
The collection, which was shown as part of a group show alongside his contemporaries, gave a deeply personal thrust to the notion of ‘the heroine’. Some pieces were even adorned with encapsulated human hair. “The inspiration behind the hair came from Victorian times when prostitutes would sell theirs for kits of hair locks, which were bought by people to give to their lovers,” McQueen revealed in a 1997 Time Out interview. “I used it as my signature label with locks of hair in Perspex. In the early collections, it was my own hair.”
Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis spring/summer 1993. Courtesy of Conde Nast Archive
1992: Marc Jacobs delivers a dose of reality on the runway
Jacobs’ charismatically rebellious spirit was potent enough to ensure he was both hired and fired by American sportswear label Perry Ellis in the early 1990s. They weren’t prepped for the designer’s infamous ‘grunge’ SS93 catwalk show, but, then again, neither was anyone else.
Plaid, proportion play and silhouettes that hinted to suburban thrift (including shrunken babydoll dresses and antique-styled slip dresses) were about to become a catwalk staple at New York Fashion Week where, just as in music, a changing of the guard was taking place. In less than 30 minutes, Jacobs had put a spoke in the wheel of high fashion, offering something entirely accessible that mirrored a universal youth movement that was in full flow.
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Originally published on Vogue.co.uk
Kim Jones. Photo: Brett Lloyd/Courtesy of Fendi
It’s set to be one of the most highly anticipated events in the 2021 fashion calendar as Kim Jones takes over the reigns from the late Karl Lagerfeld as artistic director of couture and womenswear at Fendi, presenting his first couture collection on January 27.
Stepping into Lagerfeld’s shoes was never going to be an easy feat, and for Jones the collection marks a series of firsts. The show will not only be his first for the LVMH-owned, Italian fashion house, since his appointment in September, but it will also mark the first time in the British designer’s career where he will design both women’s and couture clothes.
Jones, who is also a designer of Dior Men, will showcase the collection at the Palais Brongniart during Paris Haute Couture Week. Both Fendi and Jones announced plans for the big show on Instagram, confirming, “This will be Kim Jones debut collection for the Roman Maison.”
Karl Lagerfeld enjoyed a tenure of 54 years at Fendi, working closely with Silvia Venturini Fendi, who continues to design Fendi accessories and men’s wear. LVMH are hopeful the new partnership will be as creative and successful.
“I would like to profoundly thank Monsieur Arnault, Pietro Beccari, Serge Brunschwig, and Silvia Venturini Fendi for this incredible opportunity,” said Jones after his appointment. “Working across two such prestigious houses is a true honor as a designer and to be able to join the house of Fendi as well as continuing my work at Dior Men’s is a huge privilege.”
Jones is a talented star in the LVMH family, before Dior and Fendi, the London Central Saint Martins graduate worked for seven years at Louis Vuitton as the men’s wear designer. Before that he was creative director for British men’s luxury-goods brand Alfred Dunhill, a role which saw him pick up a Designer Of The Year award at the Fashion Awards. He won the same award again in 2019 for his work at Dior.
Read Next: Silvia Venturini Fendi on Paying Homage to Karl Lagerfeld Through the Fendi Couture Show in Rome