Karl Lagerfeld

French Event Organizer Françoise Dumas Reflects on Life as ‘Mistress of Ceremonies’

French Event Organizer Françoise Dumas Reflects on Life as ‘Mistress of Ceremonies’

For more than four decades, Françoise Dumas was swept up in a whirl of charity galas, luxury launches and state dinners. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the event organizer’s professional activity came screeching to a halt.
Dumas was at her holiday home in Comporta, Portugal, when the first lockdowns were announced and decided to remain there instead of returning to Paris, France.

The forced break allowed her to take stock and write a book, “Mistress of Ceremonies,” recently published in French by Grasset, in which she recounts the parties she’s planned for luminaries like luxury magnate Bernard Arnault, designer Karl Lagerfeld, Princess Caroline of Monaco and former presidential couple Jacques and Bernadette Chirac.

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Now Dumas is back in action, with events like the annual Société des Amis du Musée d’Orsay gala dinner, but she reckons the world will never be the same again.

“I’m at a turning point in my life, but it’s not just due to my age. I think we’re at a turning point in society too, aren’t we?” she says tentatively over a cappuccino at the Ritz hotel in Paris. “It’s strange, very strange. I really feel like things are completely changing. But I’m not the person to organize Zoom dinners in the metaverse. I prefer living matter.”

Françoise Dumas at the entrance of the Elysée presidential palace in Paris.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Dumas could be forgiven for thinking she’s part of a dying breed. There’s only a handful of great society hostesses left in Paris, including her friend Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, Sisley cofounder Countess Isabelle d’Ornano and Hélène David-Weill, all of whom belong to a generation well-versed in the codes of entertaining à la française.

“I wonder if the young generations will be as interested in this traditional art of living,” ponders Dumas, whose book details the arcane rules for hosts and guests, from the court of King Louis XIV to the present day (who knew that a dinner napkin should always be folded in half before being placed on your lap?).  

“I wanted to recall certain rules that I feel are important for a pleasant and courteous life,” she says in her signature affable delivery. “I feel that you can’t just do as you please.”

Dumas has always been drawn to the social whirl. Born in 1939, she spent her early years in the Loire region, largely shielded from the effects of World War II. As a child, she developed a passion for history, through regular visits to the area’s famous castles, and practiced organizing receptions with her doll’s tea set.

The dinner for the opening of the “From the Great Mughals to the Maharajas. Jewels from the Al Thani collection” exhibition.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Her imagination was fueled by fantasies of the great masked balls hosted by the likes of Étienne de Beaumont, Alexis de Redé and Carlos de Beistegui in the 1920s and 1930s. By the time Dumas started working for event organizers in the ‘60s, however, those socialite gatherings were a distant memory, replaced by buzzy film premieres, like the 1962 party for “The Longest Day,” which culminated with a concert by Edith Piaf on the Eiffel Tower.

Dumas wanted in, but as a junior in the office of Georges Cravenne, the man who launched the Césars ceremony, France’s equivalent to the Oscars, she was relegated to the accounts that nobody else wanted: jewelers, perfumers and fashion designers, who at the time were considered minor clients and disparagingly referred to as “suppliers.”

Little did she know that she was laying the foundations for the agency she would go on to found with her business partner Anne Roustang in 1980. Her first fragrance launch was for Valentino in 1978 and took the shape of a gala for Roland Petit’s new ballet for Mikhail Baryshnikov, followed by dinner at Maxim’s.

“I think it was the first time that the launch of a luxury product was tied to a cultural event and it was a great success,” Dumas recalls.

Her meeting with Arnault came to define a large portion of her career, with Dumas helping the head of luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to host events, including the blowout launch of Dior’s Dune fragrance in 1991 at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, and the 1996 Met Gala, which Princess Diana attended in John Galliano’s first haute couture design for the French fashion house.

Françoise Dumas behind Bernard Arnault and Princess Diana at a charity dinner in Paris in 1995.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Dumas says legendary WWD boss John B. Fairchild credited her with burnishing the image of Arnault — whose frenzied acquisition of luxury brands in the 1980s and 1990s earned him the nickname “the wolf in a cashmere coat” — by masterminding the gala events he sponsored for charities headed by former French first lady Claude Pompidou and later Madame Chirac.

“Alongside [Arnault’s] conquering or combative side, there was his patronage and support for social or cultural causes,” she says. “When we started working together, I would always say to him, ‘Monsieur, you want to create the world’s largest luxury group. It would be wonderful to perpetuate this French art of living.’ And that’s what he’s done with his brands.”

Dumas also takes credit for popularizing one of Dior’s bestsellers, the Lady Dior handbag.

“This is a true story,” she announces with a smile, going on to explain that Bernadette Chirac asked her to pick a gift from the Dior boutique for the Princess of Wales, who was expected for tea at the Elysée presidential palace during a 1995 visit to France.

“I had noticed a little bag, which at the time was made of fabric, and so I had it wrapped and sent to the Elysée. I phoned Monsieur Arnault to let him know, and he said, ‘Recall the bag immediately.’ Why? Because he was working on a prototype in leather. He had it finished overnight, and the leather version was sent instead,” she says.

Eventually, the bag was so closely associated with Princess Diana, who was still referred to as Lady Diana in France despite her royal title, that it was renamed in her honor.

While Dumas has always sought the company of the great and the good, she is clear on her position in the ecosystem.

“I found my place as an organizer and as a kind of reference, but I never tried to become a great socialite. That was never my intention,” she explains. “I think of people and always try to give them an instant of beauty and happiness. We always try to create moments that will become special memories. That’s really important.”

Françoise Dumas curtsies for Queen Elizabeth II at a French state dinner in 2004.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Nonetheless, she admits to being star-struck on at least one occasion: the 2004 state dinner where she met the late Queen Elizabeth II.

“I loved Madame Chirac. I was very close to her and we did a lot of events together, and one day I mentioned that I would be thrilled to attend a state dinner. I thought that she might invite me for a president that would draw a smaller crowd. A few days later, she called and said, ‘Would you like to attend the dinner for the Queen of England?’” she recalls.

Dumas and Roustang dressed in their finery and hit the red carpet. “What was very funny is that we were attending as guests, but once inside the Elysée, people were so used to seeing us there as event organizers that they kept asking us for directions,” she says.

She pulls out a folder of glossy photographs, pointing to the shot where she curtsies for the Queen. “Look at her gaze — she looks at you as if she’s known you forever,” Dumas marvels.

From her 12 years of organizing events at the presidential palace she has gained an unparalleled knowledge of diplomatic etiquette, which she combines with an encyclopedic awareness of the ins and outs of Paris society — though don’t expect her to dish any gossip, beyond some amusing anecdotes about narrowly averted seating disasters.

“We’re like a switchboard, so obviously we’re aware of a lot of things that we’re not at liberty to disclose, but if you want a party to succeed and there is a seated dinner, you’ve got to know how to place guests. That’s one of my favorite parts of the job,” she says. “If you get your seating right, people have a good time.”

Dumas still uses a system of cards — blue for men, pink for women — that she fixes with paper clips, allowing for last-minute reshuffles. “It’s like a battle plan,” she says, dismissing computerized alternatives. “I will never get rid of my cards.”

Françoise Dumas works on seating charts at a Valentino event in Rome.

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Dumas, who organized the nuptials of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock in 2011, is used to directing battalions of chefs, waiters, florists and decorators. “Sometimes there are more people behind the scenes than there are guests, so you really have to treat these events like a big film production,” she says.

She lovingly describes her most spectacular events, held in locations including the Château de Versailles, and the Forbidden City in Beijing.

“When you find yourself all alone in the galleries at Versailles, it’s extraordinary. The first time, I stood in front of the portrait of Louis XIV that is in every French child’s history schoolbook. I was enthralled. It was fascinating. The two great joys of my job are the people and the incredible places that belong to you for a few hours,” she says.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, she’s mulling the future of her agency, Françoise Dumas-Anne Roustang & associés. “I’m going through a bout of soul-searching. I would say that I really loved what I did, and I tried to do it to the best of my ability,” she says.

“I compare it to what Chanel is doing with its Métiers d’Art houses. This is like a métier d’art, and maybe this tradition needs to be modernized, but we need to keep it alive,” Dumas continues. “There are very large event production offices now, because the activity has grown over time, but I don’t think anyone has my experience as a hostess.”

In her bedroom, Dumas keeps a photograph of herself as a little girl. She confides: “I often talk to this little girl and I ask her, ‘Are you happy with what you did?’”  

Françoise Dumas

Courtesy of Françoise Dumas

Looking at Karl Lagerfeld From All Angles

Looking at Karl Lagerfeld From All Angles

How to unpack Karl Lagerfeld’s far-reaching impact on fashion, the luxury business, pop culture and the people close to him?
It takes a village, and more than three years after the German designer’s death, filmmakers, writers, curators and photographers are working furiously to cast light on different facets of his career and personal life.

Coming in the first half of next year: an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Costume Institute, and a book by former WWD journalist and author William Middleton titled ”Paradise Now: The Extraordinary Life of Karl Lagerfeld.” Next year, French television station Canal+ plans to air a four-part documentary series entitled “Lagerfeld Ambitions.”

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Word has it the BBC is also working on a documentary, and a little further down the road will be a feature film by Jared Leto in collaboration with the Karl Lagerfeld fashion house, with Leto playing the design legend.

Amber Valletta, Kristen McMenamy and Linda Evangelista backstage at Chanel’s spring 2005 show.

Robert Fairer

Next month, British fashion photographer Robert Fairer releases “Karl Lagerfeld Unseen: The Chanel Years,” a hardcover Thames & Hudson tome that captures many ‘90s supermodels; documents the designer’s immense range with the fashion house founder’s brand codes, and demonstrates the family spirit and culture of excellence Lagerfeld inspired and nurtured.

Fairer chose to focus on the “golden years,” from the mid-1990s through to 2006, selecting a little under 300 photos from the tens of thousands he snapped backstage, agog at the splendor of the clothes, the luxurious surroundings and the electrifying atmosphere stoked by having a living design legend tinkering with the looks right up to the last minute, and giving each model an encouraging word.

“It was in his nature to create, create, create every minute of the day,” Fairer marvels in an interview. “You knew you weren’t going to take three pictures of an outfit — more like 15.

“Out of all the designers, he was super approachable, always allowing you to photograph him,” adds Fairer, who has also published books of his behind-the-scenes photos at Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Marc Jacobs shows.

Backstage at the fall 2006 Chanel couture show.

At Chanel, Fairer mostly aimed his lens at the sumptuous and varied clothing — and the accessories, which the photographer came to appreciate thanks to the creativity Lagerfeld poured into handbags, jewelry, hats, gloves, shoes, earmuffs, surfboards — you name it.

In his pre-digital days, Fairer would typically bring 15 rolls of film to a show, but a Chanel one would require at least 40 as there was so much to capture.

“Over the years, I developed this sixth sense about what’s about to happen,” he says. “It’s like creating a little scene with the 20 seconds you have.”

Model Alek Wek at Chanel’s spring 2001 haute couture show.

Robert Fairer

He also describes a collaborative approach with the models, who usually obliged if he asked for a certain pose or attitude.

Fairer has snapped photos backstage at McQueen shows in waste recycling plants where “you were lucky if the floor was hosed down.”

Chanel shows, by contrast, were “on another level,” the vast backstage area always carpeted, superbly lit, equipped with great caterers, free-flowing Champagne and trays and trays of costume jewelry.

Flicking through the 352-page book, there are glimpses of fashion stars no longer with us: not only Lagerfeld, but also the model Stella Tennant and editor André Leon Talley.

Lady Amanda Harlech and André Leon Talley.

Robert Fairer

Fairer admits some nostalgia, lauding the “powerful aura” of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell’s inimitable walk that can be detected a mile away, and Kate Moss’ punchy personality.

“My photography was always very collaborative,” he explains.

The book also features essays by journalists Natasha Fraser, Sally Singer and Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, plus a foreword by Lady Amanda Harlech, who notes that Fairer captured “the joy, edge and beauty” of the backstage world, which Lagerfeld adored.

Backstage at Chanel’s spring 2005 haute couture show.

Robert Fairer

Kim Kardashian Reveals the Rare Fashion Item Daughter North West Will Inherit from Kris Jenner’s Will

Kim Kardashian Reveals the Rare Fashion Item Daughter North West Will Inherit from Kris Jenner’s Will

Photo: Instagram.com/kimkardashian
With a closet full of rare and exclusive clothing and accessories, it’s no surprise that Kim Kardashian will pass some of them on to her four children. However, the beauty mogul and entrepreneur has recently revealed that her oldest daughter, North West will be the future owner of a special Chanel bag as part of matriarch and momager Kris Jenner‘s will.
Appearing on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Kardashian recalled her first shoot with late designer Karl Lagerfeld in 2013, and how her mother Kris Jenner was the center of attention during it. Kardashian shared the anecdote and said how her mother showed up for her debut shoot with Chanel’s then-creative director, dressed head-to-toe in the brand’s vintage collection. “In walks none other than Kris Jenner, decked in head-to-toe vintage Chanel. Like, next level — the boots, the gloves, every accessory she can find, earrings, headband, hat, glasses, fanny pack, bag, backpack,” Kardashian said. “So, he falls in love with her. Doesn’t hardly even acknowledge that I’ve been like, sitting there, it’s all about Kris Jenner.”

The Skims founder shared that she had been excitedly anticipating a previously heard rumor that Lagerfeld gifted people a bag after their first shoot with him and her happiness catapulted after she saw him walk in with a unique crystal, Lego clutch. But to her dismay, Lagerfeld walked right past Kardashian and went over to Jenner, and handed her the bag. “I went into the bathroom, started hysterically crying. And I’m like pregnant, hormonal, flew all the way to Paris for this,” the mother-of-four said speaking of the incident. She also talked about how she hoped to gift the bag to her daughter one day and display it in her room. “I had this whole plan that this was gonna be the bag and it was gonna be displayed in her room. So my mom has a provision in her will that North gets the bag.”
Although Lagerfeld presented the crystal clutch to Jenner, he eventually also gifted Kardashian with her own Chanel bag at the end of another shoot.
Read Next: Pictures: Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Zendaya, and More Attend Beyoncé’s Belated Birthday Party

Top Fashion Books Published in 2022 – So Far

Top Fashion Books Published in 2022 – So Far

Fashion books are favorites among coffee table book collectors, and this year there are already a host of new ones to shop — covering luxury fashion labels from Dior and Fendi to Moschino and Louis Vuitton.In May, Jeremy Scott released a volume titled “Moschino,” about his role as creative director at Moschino through the publishing company Assouline, and in the same month, Dior released a book through Rizzoli publishers titled “Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne,” about its legendary headquarters and atelier in Paris.
Here, WWD lists some of the most notable fashion book titles published so far in 2022. Read on for more.
“Dior by John Galliano”

“Dior by John Galliano”

Assouline Courtesy of Dior

Published in January, this fifth volume in a series of books highlighting Dior’s artistic directors, “Dior by John Galliano” follows the creations of British designer John Galliano, while he helmed the house from 1996 to 2011.

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With striking, large-scale imagery, the book compiles all of Galliano’s creative work at Dior, including photography by Laziz Hamani, Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz, and text by Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A student of London’s Central Saint Martins, Galliano successfully launched his namesake brand in 1984, became the creative director of ready-to-wear and haute couture at Givenchy in 1995, and dresser at the National Theater. The designer is credited with combining the art of haute-couture costume with illusion.
Assouline, $195
“Moschino”

“Moschino”

Assouline Courtesy of Moschino

Designed in collaboration with Jeremy Scott, the creative director of Moschino since 2013, “Moschino,” released in May, is filled with the label’s most special moments, particularly as seen through Scott’s eyes. Written with fashion journalist Alexander Fury, the coffee table book, featuring a silk hardcover, includes images of backstage shows, campaigns, editorials and parties.
Often called the “enfant terrible” of the fashion industry for his rebellious designs, Scott has been credited with revamping the more than 30-year-old Italian fashion label by combining pop-culture references with high fashion.
Assouline, $250
“Love Brings Love: A Homage to Alber Elbaz”

“Love Brings Love: A Homage to Alber Elbaz”

Courtesy Rizzoli

Published in May, “Love Brings Love: A Homage to Alber Elbaz,” pays tribute to late designer Alber Elbaz, best known for reviving Lanvin from 2001 to 2015, who died on April 24, 2021, as a result of COVID-19 complications.
In a memorial show dedicated to the late designer titled “Love Brings Love” on Oct. 5, 2021, 44 designers from France, Japan, Italy and the U.S. designed looks to close out Paris Fashion Week — an event that made history in being the first collaborative memorial fashion show to happen in Paris. Some of Elbaz’s own looks were part of the event as well, produced by his AZ Factory studio and atelier.
This coffee table book is divided into three parts, including pieces written by Elbaz; sketches from the designers and brands who participated in the 2021 memorial show, including Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Comme des Garçons, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Valentino; and a section of photographs, including completed dresses by Elbaz.
Rizzoli, $65

“Louis Vuitton Manufactures”

“Louis Vuitton Manufacturers”

Assouline Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Taking a bit of a different angle than most fashion coffee table books, “Louis Vuitton Manufactures,” by author, historian and journalist Nicholas Foulkes, features the makers behind the luxury label. With more than 350 illustrations, this book, released in February, is a special issue dedicated to the skilled artisans who make up the ateliers of Louis Vuitton, those in France, Switzerland, Italy and the U.S. The silk cover hardback includes images of the label’s many warehouses, such as their low environmental impact workshop in Beaulieu-sur-Layon, France.
Exclusive images of the making of some of the brand’s most notable pieces, like monogrammed trunks and bags, as well as watches and shoes, are also included.
Assouline, $95
“Brioni: Tailoring Legends”

“Brioni: Tailoring Legends”

Assouline Courtesy of Brioni

Released in February, “Brioni: Tailoring Legends,” showcases the fine craftsmanship of the Italian label Brioni founded in 1945 by master tailors Nazareno Fonticoli and Gaetano Savini. The menswear brand debuted the first men’s fashion show in 1952 at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy, and has had a global influence on menswear since.
With more than 200 images, this book, written by fashion historian Olivier Saillard, includes original photography of archival garments as well as exclusive materials that celebrate the evolution of the house’s men’s style throughout the decades.
Assouline $195
“Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne”

“Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne”

Courtesy Rizzoli

Released on the fashion house’s 75th anniversary in May, “Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne,” looks at the French fashion house’s rich past through the lens of its headquarters and atelier at 30, Avenue Montaigne in Paris’ high-end Triangle d’Or neighborhood, where the finest haute couture shops are located. The iconic address is a Parisian hotel ​​that Christian Dior handpicked himself in 1946, and has since been the home of his couture collections, beginning, most notably, with his inaugural 1947 fashion show, which marked the New Look era’s debut.
This coffee table book written by Pietro Beccari and published in May features exclusive imagery of Christian Dior working in his design studio, backstage fashion shoes, fitting sessions, archival documents and a portfolio of Dior’s designs.

Rizzoli, $45
“The Joy of Movement”

“The Joy of Movement”

Abrams Courtesy of Fusalp

Released in May, “The Joy of Movement,” outlines the extensive 70-year history of skiwear brand Fusalp. Founded in the Alps of eastern France in 1852, the brand is most known for introducing mountain apparel to the mainstream fashion scene, inspired by both alpine skiing and its French roots.
Authored by 2019 Grand Prix de Littérature Dramatique winner, stage director Mohamed El Khatib, the work includes never-before-seen archival material and firsthand accounts of the figures behind the brand.
Abrams, $35
“Hermès: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth”

“Hermès: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth”

Amazon

Published by Abrams in May, “Hermès Straight From the Horse’s Mouth,” combines anecdotes, profiles and testimonies from the label’s saddlers, sales assistants, window dressers and gardeners, that tell the story of Hermès since its founding by Thierry Hermès in 1837. To accompany the text, written by Luc Charbin, the 96-page work includes playful illustrations by Parisian illustrator Alice Charbin.
Amazon, $25.49
“The Fendi Set: From Bloomsbury to Borghese”

“The Fendi Set: From Bloomsbury to Borghese”

Courtesy Rizzoli

“The Fendi Set: From Bloomsbury to Borghese,” published in May, follows Fendi’s head of couture and womenswear Kim Jones, and his inspirational connection to the Bloomsbury Set: an early 20th-century group of British authors, scholars and artists including Virginia Woolf, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.
The book, with text by Jones, serves to reveal the historical connection between the Bloomsbury Set and the Fendi house through enriched photography by Nikolai von Bismarck of landmarks, sites and scenes in Europe, like the Sissinghurst Castle in England, Rome’s Villa Medici and the Villa Borghese in Rome.
Included in the volume are diary entries, letters and excerpts from Bloomsbury members, with artistic photography designed to bring Jones’ creations to life, and imagery of what Rizzoli called his “eternal muses” — Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Demi Moore, among them — bringing things into the present.
Rizzoli, $135
“Street Unicorns”

“Street Unicorns”

Abrams Courtesy of Robbie Quinn

Released in May, “Street Unicorns” by award-winning New York-based photographer Robbie Quinn, includes more than 250 images of the city’s “style rebels and bold expressionists.”

A commercial photographer with a focus on environmental portraits, Quinn, as the coffee table book’s title suggests, calls his fashionable subjects “Street Unicorns” and includes their testimonials, aspirations and perspectives as well as their outfits.
Abrams publishing describes the book as: “A vibrant declaration against ageism, racism, homophobia and all other discriminations, this book is a love letter to those who aren’t afraid to stand out, embrace nonconformity and share who they are with the world.”
 Abrams, $29.99
“Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks”

“Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks”

Courtesy Rizzoli

Published in June, “Future Now: Virtual Sneakers to Cutting-Edge Kicks,” reveals some of the most innovative processes today’s shoe industry uses to design footwear, like 3D printing, to sustainable material innovation, like using “leather” made from mushrooms to soles made from recycled ocean plastics.
Written by Elizabeth Semmelhack, the curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Ontario, Canada, the book features in-depth interviews conducted by Semmelhack with well-known designers, including Iris Van Herpen, Steven Smith and the team at virtual shoe company RTFKT, among others. This 224-page collection of footwear innovation is designed to inspire the creative processes for the future of shoes.
Rizzoli, $55
“Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion”

“Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion”

Abrams

“Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion,” published in February, delves deep into the life of the late and legendary designer, perhaps best known for leading creative direction at Chanel, though even before that he lent his creativity to Fendi and Chloé. And, of course, he had his own namesake label.
Lagerfeld, who died at 85 years old in February 2019, served as the creative director of Chanel from 1983 up until his death and launched Karl Lagerfeld the label in 1984, which he also operated through the end of his life. Written by German editor Alfons Kaiser, a close friend of Lagerfeld, the biography encompasses all eras of the designer’s life, from his adolescence in the “North German flatlands” to his adulthood as the “disciplined Prussian workaholic.”
Abrams publishing said this about the biography: “Drawing from many previously untapped sources, this biography investigates the man behind the persona: the precocious boy who preferred to draw in the attic than play with his peers; the son who quarreled with his parents but never got away from them; Yves Saint Laurent’s competitor, whom he outshone in the end; the brother, uncle, friend — and finally the partner of Jacques de Bascher, the great love of his life.”

Abrams, $30

Montblanc Built a Temple to Handwriting in Hamburg

Montblanc Built a Temple to Handwriting in Hamburg

HAMBURG, Germany — “Dear Miss Roose, Thank you for your invitation.”So begins a longwinded negative RSVP handwritten on flowery paper by the late Karl Lagerfeld, displayed at the new Montblanc Haus, which blends elements of a museum, art gallery, hall of fame and school — adding up to a unique destination.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Óscar Isaac and Dree Hemingway were among VIPs who descended on Hamburg Tuesday to christen the new building, which resembles a giant artist’s charcoal stick etched with a mountain scape and stamped with the German brand’s famous snowcap emblem. (The building’s design is actually an homage to historic pen packaging.)
Located next to Montblanc’s headquarters, and production facilities for its precious resin writing instruments and hand-ground gold nibs, the three-story structure also boasts a café, exhibition spaces, writing ateliers, an archive and academy.

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It’s the latest “immersive brand experience” served up by Europe’s big luxury brands, which are adding cultural and hospitality elements to their flagship projects — though Montblanc acknowledges that its new “house” on the fringes of Hamburg is more of a museum and gallery than a store, and will initially be open on weekdays only.

A pen with a dragon motif on display at Montblanc Haus in Hamburg.
DANIEL SCHAEFER

So far, only groups of students have visited the permanent exhibitions, trying their hand at calligraphy and watching short films about the value of writing.
On Tuesday evening, editors, influencers and local dignitaries streamed through the sleek, 39,000-square-foot facility, gawking at diamond-studded “High Artistry” pens, Art Deco-style advertising posters, and examples of client penmanship from around the world.
“It’s about celebrating writing,” Montblanc chief executive officer Nicolas Baretzki said in an interview, describing the monumental mobile made of paper hanging near the entrance, and the squishy, ink-like lettering on walls that underscore the theme. “We want people to understand why handwriting is important; what are all the philosophical and cultural ideas behind writing?
“If people leave with some excitement and inspiration, I believe we have done the right job,” he added.
Montblanc Haus arrives at a time when the Richemont-owned luxury brand is navigating a spike in demand for its pricy pens, with its Limited Edition range currently out of stock, and a recent tie-up with Ferrari selling out “in a few days,” Baretzki said.
While he declined to give precise figures, he said, “we are definitely over pre-COVID-19 figures and the big challenge these days is producing enough to meet demand.”
The executive said Montblanc Haus was plunked deliberately in front of three buildings housing about 1,000 artisans who craft the brand’s pens, some nibs requiring 35 hand-hewn steps. Tours of the facilities, until now upon demand, will now be offered more widely as Montblanc seeks to fan interest in its most emblematic product, and using it to “leave a mark” on the world.
“I see it as a means to maximize our handprint,” the CEO said with a grin, deliberately sidestepping the word footprint to exalt the flourish of a penned word.

Varieties of handwriting and some sketches adorn the walls of Montblanc Haus.
DANIEL SCHAEFER

About 400 exceptional writing instruments are on display in the new facility, representing about a tenth of Montblanc’s stash, along with the multiple component parts.

Baretzki noted that historic writing instruments have been a formidable font of inspiration for Montblanc’s artistic director, Marco Tomasetta, who arrived last year. Among Tomasetta’s new leather goods designs is a weekend bag in a shiny leather reminiscent of its iconic Meisterstück fountain pen, with zipper pulls and handle tabs shaped like nibs.
“More and more, we try to talk about Montblanc and not just isolated categories,” he said. “It’s a lot about brand themes about brand expression.”
Next up for Montblanc is an event in Paris on June 22 during Men’s Fashion Week to unveil a new theme and a new collection by Tomasetta.
In a separate interview, Vincent Montalescot, executive vice president of marketing, said the new facility was five years in the making, with teams “digging deeply in the archives.”
He noted that brand discovery emporiums are more common in consumer products industries, mentioning the likes of Lindt’s Home of Chocolate in Kilchberg, Switzerland or the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam. Sites that offered the Montblanc teams some luxury inspiration included the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and the L’École, School of Jewelry Arts supported by Van Cleef & Arpels, which, like Montblanc, is controlled by Compagnie Financière Richemont. But the archives informed everything from the architecture to the sleek and glossy furnishings in black and white.
While Montblanc Haus charts the company’s 116 years of history and exalts its savoir-faire, it has a broader goal of inspiring writing, and harnessing the creativity sparked when pen hits paper, Montalescot explained.
Displays and experiences are also meant to engage a wide range of audiences, from children to serious pen geeks.

An immersive digital installation at Montblanc Haus in Hamburg.
DANIEL SCHAEFER

“A collector, someone really passionate about writing and Montblanc, will find amazing pieces and a kid will be inspired by the different opportunities to touch, to feel and to discover an environment and the power of writing,” Montalescot said.
Visitors can write postcards with Montblanc pens, sign up for creative writing classes and read handwritten notes from famous figures. Montalescot said the facility is meant to inspire visitors, and also invite them to “pause and reflect.”

Exhibitions blend high-tech and old-school elements. Visitors can step into a round room resembling a slice of a Montblanc pen and be surrounded by dazzling digital projections, while VIPs and VICs will be ferried into a “secret room” where they don white gloves and can inspect rare writing instruments.
“They both bring unique emotions,” he noted with a smile.
Montalescot said the archives shelter not only treasures from the past, but also possible roadmaps for the future. To wit: Having discovered autographs by writers such as Voltaire, Agatha Christie, Thomas Mann and Ernest Hemingway in storage, Montblanc decided to shift investments from contemporary art into rare signatures by the likes of Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Reinhold Messner and Spike Lee, who appeared in a global Montblanc campaign in 2020.

Autographs by The Beatles are on display at Montblanc Haus in Hamburg.
DANIEL SCHAEFER

Asked how many visitors Montblanc Haus might welcome in its first year, Montelescot shrugged, describing the business model as a “work in progress” and efforts to publicize the facility in its early stages, with Tuesday’s inauguration event the big kickoff.
However, the brand is mulling plans to “digitize the experience” and export elements to other Montblanc stores and perhaps pop-up installations. In 2024, the company will mark the centenary for the Meisterstück, its most iconic pen.
Alexa Schilz, director of brand heritage and sustainability at Montblanc, said she engaged two museologists to help contextualize and curate the archives, which include a treasure trove of advertising campaigns from 1922 through to the 1970s. These images document how fountain pens facilitated business travel — no ink well to balance on a bumpy train — and how Montblanc used the language and methods of fashion early, creating a collection of pens around 1907 that were given a fancy French name, “Rouge et Noir.”
“They saw the value in bringing something chic to the market,” Schilz said.
Writing samples on display in the exhibition areas include a small leather book containing the autographs of all members of The Beatles, and more prosaic exchanges, including notes from Italian architect and furniture designer Gio Ponti and his carpenters.
The boutique at Montblanc Haus mainly showcases writing instruments, some leather goods, a tiny selection of watches and personalized stationery, Schilz noted.

SEE ALSO:
Montblanc Reveals First Leather Goods Collection Under New Artistic Director
Montblanc Teams Up With Maison Kitsuné for Leather Goods
Richemont’s Q3 Revenue Soars Due to an Engaged Local Clientele

Penélope Cruz: “I Don’t Think of Myself as a Role Model for Anyone Other Than My Children”

Penélope Cruz: “I Don’t Think of Myself as a Role Model for Anyone Other Than My Children”

As she sets foot in Dubai this month, Penélope Cruz opens up about her loves and life’s work.
Penélope Cruz wears accessories by Chanel. Photographed by Luigi and Iango for Vogue Arabia November 2021
It is hard to believe that for an actor who has earned an Oscar, a Bafta, multiple Goyas, and a César, among many other awards, winning a prize still makes a big impact. However, for Penélope Cruz, emotions took over when she received the call that revealed that her performance in Parallel Mothers, Pedro Almodóvar’s latest movie, was to be awarded the Volpi Cup for best actress at the 2021 edition of the prestigious Venice film festival. “I was shocked when I was contacted by Pedro’s team, informing me that I was the best actress in Venice this year. I couldn’t believe it and I started to cry,” she confides. “My daughter was with me and said, ‘Mom, why are you crying if you are getting a prize?’ I had to explain to her what this award meant to me. I love this festival; it’s so significant, and I attended it for the first time 30 years ago. To win with a movie by Pedro’s side was an incredible dream.”
With her Volpi Cup for for best actress at this year’s Venice film festival. Photo: Getty
The partnership between Cruz and Almodóvar is one of the most celebrated in cinema history. Cruz, from Madrid, was a young but already known actor in Spain, when she teamed up for the first time with the iconic director in 1997. Live Flesh was the first of eight movies they’ve since done together, all incredible successes, such as All About My Mother (1999), Volver (2006), and Broken Embraces (2009). In Parallel Mothers, their latest venture, Cruz delivers one of her best performances to date, in the role of Janis, a pregnant photographer who meets another mother-to-be in a maternity ward–a less prosperous teenager–with whom she becomes close. The acting is raw and powerful, and shows Cruz in a completely new light, as noted by the stellar reviews so far. “I feel grateful with all the characters Pedro gave me, as they allow me to do things I’ve never done before–this happens over and over again,” she says. “We’ve worked together eight times and it’s always a big and complex challenge. Janis was the most difficult character of them all, as so many difficult things happened in her life, almost like climbing a mountain every day. I loved every second of it and my end goal was not to disappoint Pedro and his trust, making sure he was happy. Just going through this experience and learning by Pedro’s side was already an award itself, so winning on top of it was more than I could dream of.”
Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz at this year’s New York Film Festival. Photo: Getty
When asked to select her favorite Almodóvar movie, Cruz cannot choose. However, she reinforces that he is her “main teacher,” and although they consider each other “family,” the relationship on and off the movie set is quite unique. “We have a close relationship, but we separate things. If you see us having dinner, the tone is completely different from when we are on a set. Even without planning, there’s some sort of distance. I think we created this to protect our work and relationship. But at the same time, it’s a distance full of trust, and full of love and respect for each other.”
Cruz wears jacket, top, pants, accessories, shoes, Chanel. Photographed by Luigi and Iango for Vogue Arabia November 2021
We are now in a photography studio in the center of Madrid, not to meet Penélope Cruz the actor, but Penélope Cruz the fashion muse. The Spanish star is coming to Dubai for the third time this November, this instance to attend a replica of Chanel’s Cruise show, making it the perfect opportunity to grace Vogue Arabia’s cover. At the age of 47, Cruz is petite and impressively beautiful, moving with full ease in front of the cameras of Luigi and Iango, wearing Chanel and a few looks from regional brands to pay a thoughtful homage to the Arab world. When we sit to chat, she tells me how she became an ambassador of Chanel, a journey that started decades ago. “The first time I went to a show for Chanel was in 1999. Then, years later, I was told that Karl Lagerfeld wanted to see me in Cannes, so I went for dinner with him and Virginie [Viard]. During the meal they started speaking in French about offering me a campaign. I pretended I didn’t understand, but I got it,” she laughs. “The next day, they called me to confirm.” It was after a first campaign for the 2018/2019 Cruise collection that Cruz was appointed ambassador of the brand, becoming extremely close to Lagerfeld. The actor reveals that they loved to talk to each other, and had hours-long discussions about everything, not only fashion. “I feel I was always connected to the brand, as I’m Chanel’s biggest fan. Ever since I was a little girl, I always dreamed of wearing their clothes.” This dream became reality, with Cruz delivering spectacular Chanel fashion moments at the Oscars in 2008 and 2020, at the 2019 Met Gala, and at the 2018 opening night of the Cannes Film Festival. “I’ve had all these magical moments with Chanel being part of my life, with dresses that were created for me, always so one-of-a-kind,” she reflects. “I even remember sketches that I have from Karl, for a dress he made for me for the Oscars, or the dress that I wore at this year’s Venice Film Festival, designed by Virginie two years ago, but that we felt was so special, we wanted to wait for the right opportunity for me to wear it.”
Cruz wears jacket, top, pants, accessories, Chanel. Photographed by Luigi and Iango for Vogue Arabia November 2021
Another moment of major importance but reflecting a less happy moment in the brand’s history, was when Cruz walked the runway for FW19 ready-to-wear, a collection designed by Karl Lagerfeld, but showcased after the passing of the creative director. “It was really difficult not to cry while walking. I remember the runway was very long, and that feeling that I had to make it until the end…” she confides. “After I finished, I saw Marion Cotillard in the hallway behind, and we just hugged each other and burst into tears. There were so many people there that loved him and worked with him for 40 years. It was magical, and it felt like time had stopped.”
Walking the Chanel FW18 runway. Photo: Getty
Although the bond between Cruz and Lagerfeld was so strong, the actor could not be more satisfied with his replacement, Virginie Viard, who had worked with the German designer since 1987. “I think she is the best possible person to continue the legacy of the brand, and to continue Karl’s work. They spent more than two decades together, and she completely understands the essence of Chanel, while adding her own personal touch,” Cruz notes. “She is very rock’n’roll, and very modern. She is also practical, cool, and elegant, and thinks of what women want to wear. On a personal level, I also love that she is a real family person, always so amazing with my kids, and very straight-forward. She is a no-nonsense type of woman.”
As 6pm approaches, Cruz informs us that she needs to leave the studio on time, as she wants to pick up her children from school. After living in Los Angeles, London, and New York, the actor is now fully based in Madrid, where she resides with her two children, 10-year-old Leo and eight-year-old Luna, and her husband, actor Javier Bardem.
Cruz with her husband Javier Bardem at the 2018 Cannes film festival. Photo: Getty
The pair met on the set of the 1992 film Jamón Jamón and also starred together in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), the Woody Allen movie that earned her an Oscar. Having her life based around her family in Madrid means Cruz can also be close to her mother and sister, in a “good place to raise children.” When I ask how Spain’s cinematic royal couple maintains a certain normality at home, far from the glamour of premieres and the red carpet, the actor reveals that her secret is a clear separation between work and personal time. “I don’t take the characters home. Imagine a role like Janis, who made me cry on set for 12 hours straight, for so many weeks… I try to jump in and out of fiction as many times as possible in one day, but when I go home, I’m there a hundred percent for my family,” she shares. “I also don’t shoot all the time. I work on a movie for maybe a couple of months, and then I have a lot of time until I’m doing the next one. And I do maybe one or two movies per year. I also avoid doing movies away from home if it’s not in the summer. If it’s winter, I just do it in Madrid. My focus is being a mother, so I’m blessed I can work while keeping my family the priority.”
Cruz wears jacket, top, pants, accessories, shoes, Chanel. Photographed by Luigi and Iango for Vogue Arabia November 2021
As a family woman and actor, one of the things that concerns Cruz and that she is vocal about is the negative impact of social media on everyone’s lives. And she seems serious when she tells me that she “wished that we stayed in the Nineties, when there was a great equilibrium between technology, pen and paper, and a timing that was more logical for the human brain.” She continues, “I just use social media for my work or for charity, I do not use it for other reasons, it just doesn’t go with me. I feel it’s crazy what is happening in the world regarding children and teenagers using social media. To me, this is big and it’s urgent to be looked at and regulated. It all starts at home, with what each family allows, but it’s difficult to manage if the regulations are not in place. It becomes normal to see a 12-year-old using social media. It’s not normal and it’s not OK. It’s not right for the development of any child. In my house, there is none of that for sure. I am strict and careful, but I don’t see the same when I look around.”
Cruz wears top, pants, accessories, Chanel. Photographed by Luigi and Iango for Vogue Arabia November 2021
Before Cruz bids adios to the studio, I ask her if she feels the weight of being a role model for so many girls who dream of her success and want to be like her. Not only is she Spain’s most international actor, with a vast portfolio that includes comedy, action, and more intellectual movies, but she will also always be the first woman from her country to have won an acting Oscar, from three nominations (Bardem was the first actor, winning in the best supporting category for No Country for Old Men in 2007). She is also the face of Chanel, and one half of her country’s most acclaimed power couple. “When a young girl stops me on the street, I always say I’m no one to give advice, as I’m not very good at that. But if it’s a teenager who dreams of acting, I always tell them to prepare. Study, work on your craft, and have a plan B, just in case you don’t succeed, exactly like I did. And never do drugs,” Cruz concludes. “I don’t think of myself as a role model for anyone other than my children, as they see me every day, and the actions of their mother and father are the most important to them. This is a huge responsibility, and my biggest mission in life is to try to do that well.”
Read Next: “Coming to Dubai is a powerful achievement,” Chanel’s President of Fashion on the Cruise Show
Originally published in the November 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia
Style: Amine JreissatiHair: LuigiMakeup: Pablo IglesiasNails: Lucero HurtadoPhotography assistants: Daniel Gallar Candela, Luca, Jessica Rodriguez LigeroHair assistant: Stephane BeaverStyle assistant: Esther FiolDigital tech: David GarciaCreative production: Laura PriorProduction: Alana Production

Fashion Consultant, Show Producer and Stylist Janet Racy Dies at 69

Fashion Consultant, Show Producer and Stylist Janet Racy Dies at 69

Janet Racy, a fashion and lifestyle consultant, died Thursday at age 68 at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Forest Hills, N.Y.She died from complications from surgery following a long illness, according to her friend Lisa Silhanek. Services have not yet been planned and a celebration of her life will be held at a later date.
Roach worked as a trend forecaster, spokesperson, stylist, designer, visual display specialist, show producer and in other capacities. Many knew her as the director of fashion merchandising at Harper’s Bazaar, a post she held for five years until 1992. Prior to that, Racy served as vice president and fashion director of women’s apparel for the Associated Dry Good Corp., whose members included Lord & Taylor, J.W. Robinson and L.S. Ayres. During her career, she worked with brands and designers including Christian Francis Roth, Karl Lagerfeld, Thierry Mugler, Alber Elbaz and Kleinfeld. Racy also worked in special events, films and commercials.

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Roth said Friday that after designing his first collection, he first met Racy through his girlfriend at that time, who is now his wife. After she called Racy at Harper’s Bazaar, Roth packed away his designs in a garment bag and walked to the magazine’s offices with a model friend to show Racy. “She was just beside herself. It was the first person I had ever shown my work to. Right away she called Marylou Luther and Lynn Manulis, the head of Martha boutique on Park Avenue. She was such a champion of my work early on and made introductions that shaped my entire career,” Roth said. “She put on a headset and called my first show from backstage. She helped calm me down, when I was worried or upset in preparation for the first show. She had a hand in sales, the merchandising, the styling, the model casting, the calling of the show. I just remember her there at all hours, not just for the first show but for the first several.”
Unfailingly positive, Racy excelled at putting people together, Roth said. “If she saw there was a talent, she was genuinely ecstatic about introducing that talent to the people that she knew. Putting people together, launching design careers — she had an outsized role in the industry in that regard,” he said.
Through the years, Racy, who started her own consultancy business in 1992, periodically appeared on television like Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, NBC’s “The Today Show” and QVC, among others. She also lectured and taught classes at universities and corporations. Racy also freelanced for fashion and lifestyle magazines. Well-informed about an array of subjects, Racy was not only smart, but she was nice, according to Luther. “Her major contribution was to prove that there could be goodness in the fashion world. And she was goodness. It didn’t all have to be make believe and let’s do the best we can to make it look good. She was real,” Luther said.
Kleinfeld co-owner Mara Urshel recalled Friday how she hired Racy to produce fashion shows for the bridal retailer with different organizations 21 years ago. ”At that time, fashion shows were more entertaining than just models going down the runway. Janet really worked with us and taught our marketing people every little thing about what has to be done to set up a fashion show — the photographers, sets, lights — everything. Jennette Kruszka, who is my director of marketing, said she learned everything she knows from Janet Racy.”

Describing Racy as “such a sincere, warm, intelligent and honest person, who you just loved being with,” Urshel said their friendship endured after they stopped working together. “You don’t run into too many of them in your life. The ones that you do, you really hold in esteem.”
Racy graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology majoring in apparel design and later went on to earn a BA in textiles and clothing from Queens College, as well as a MA in retail marketing from New York University. A member of the Fashion Group International, The Round Table of Fashion Executives and FIT’s Alumni Association, Racy also served on Kent State University’s advisory board and was a visiting guest at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Manulis’ son Andrew Burnstine met Racy while studying together at NYU in the late Eighties. Racy wrangled clothes from Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and others and produced and created “Clothes Encounters of the Third Kind” for a retail marketing class. “Janet even was so persuasive in those early days in convincing America’s top designers to loa us clothes for the show.” Burnstine said.
In addition to Roth, She also was instrumental in working with Martha’s to feature and promote designers like Josie Natori, Jeanette Kastenberg, Badgley Mischka, Joanna Mastroianni and Zang Toi, Burnstine said.
Racy is survived by her brother John.

On the Latest Episode of Good Morning Vogue, A New Allure: How Virginie Viard is Making Chanel her Own

On the Latest Episode of Good Morning Vogue, A New Allure: How Virginie Viard is Making Chanel her Own

Chanel is a magic name in fashion. Its double-C logo, known all around the globe, needs no translation. Nor do Chanelisms like the quilted bag, camellias, or the number 5. In this episode of Good Morning Vogue, Anna Wintour and Hamish Bowles are joined by Sofia Coppola, Inez Van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin, and others as they decode some of the house codes, as set forth by the founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, and current creative director Virginie Viard, who expresses her preference for simplicity and joins in the fun.
“Chanel is its own world,” notes Van Lamsweerde, and it was one that reflected the exquisite taste of the founder, who, as her own best model, was the face of the brand. Having started as a milliner, Chanel transformed fashion in the 1920s by introducing simple dresses and jackets in jersey (a then unheard-of fabric for luxury fashion) that a woman could live, love, dine, and dance in. When Chanel reopened her house in 1953, having shuttered it during the war, her tweed cardigan suits with passementerie trim and chain-weighted hems once again became a uniform of the chic.
Karl Lagerfeld, who took charge of the brand in 1983, proved that the house could stand, and flourish, in the (physical) absence of its founder. “Karl,” says his close friend and Vogue’s Global Editorial Director Anna Wintour,” was Superman.” Having absorbed the house codes, Lagerfeld gave them a post-modern makeover, adding elements from the street, as well as his captivating sense of humor. It was such an exciting and powerful mix that Lagerfeld’s legacy equals that of Coco’s.
Chanel is now in the capable hands of Virginie Viard, who worked side-by-side with Lagerfeld for years. Without discarding all that came before, she is quietly asserting her own signature, a combination of soft femininity and rock ’n’ roll edge. And, as Bowles notes, with Viard at the helm the house is once again led by a woman designing for other women. Vive la femme!
Read Next: How Virginie Viard is Reimagining Chanel for the House’s Next Chapter
Featuring: Anna Wintour, Virginie Viard, Hamish Bowles, Inez and Vinoodh, and Sofia CoppolaDirector: Nikki PetersenProducer: Amanda MessengerAssociate Producer: Kevin MohunDirector of Photography: Etienne BaussanB-camera Operator: Franck OnouvietSound Mixer: David Amsalem AlbertiniAssociate Producer: Kevin MohunProduction Assistant: Zakariya BoujanaEdited by: Henry Busby and Ann LupoAssociate Director, Postproduction: Nicole BergAssistant Editors: Andy Morell and Billy Ward
Sound Mixer: Bobb BaritoV.P., Digital Video Programming and Development: Robert SemmerCreative Editorial Director: Mark GuiducciPostproduction Supervisor: Marco GlinbizziLine Producer: Jessica ShierProduction Manager: Edith PauccarSpecial thanks: Chanel, the Ritz Paris, La Reserve Paris
Originally published on Vogue.com

Chanel RTW Spring 2022

Chanel RTW Spring 2022

It was flashback time for photographers at the Chanel show, which was staged in a replica of the Carrousel du Louvre, the cavernous venue that hosted many Paris Fashion Week shows in the 1980s and 1990s.Snappers were grouped around a raised runway for a high-energy show that brought to mind late creative director Karl Lagerfeld’s supermodel extravaganzas in the ’90s. Models flipped their hair, jutted their hips and winked as they paraded in graphic swimsuits, logo-patterned dresses and tweed suits in a throwback palette of lilac, pink and yellow.

While some had a field day with the brief, others were visibly less comfortable vamping it up. The prize for Most Winning Smile went to Jill Kortleve, while Mariam de Vinzelle won for Most Dramatic Hair Toss, and Louise de Chevigny for Best Use of an Accessory, for her deft way with a chiffon stole.

With the Grand Palais undergoing renovations, Chanel switched to a temporary replacement venue near the Eiffel Tower for its first runway show with an audience in 12 months. The dark, cramped setting afforded less of a stage for peacocking Chanel clients, but gave creative director Virginie Viard an excuse to play with the show format.

Since succeeding Lagerfeld following his death in 2019, she has brought in a variety of big names to shoot the brand’s campaigns and press kits, which Lagerfeld personally lensed for more than three decades. “I’ve never taken pictures, but it’s something that fascinates me,” Viard said in a preview. “It magnifies the collection.”
The show decor, dominated by a giant image of model Vivienne Rohner holding a camera, was a tribute to those image-makers, including Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, who were positioned at the end of the podium to record the action for Chanel’s digital broadcast later in the day.
Guests entered through a room where giant screens showed black-and-white footage of brand ambassadors, including Lily-Rose Depp and Blackpink’s Jennie, picking up cameras and preening in a director’s chair. Inside, photographers jostled to get a picture of the stars in person.
Rohner was first on the runway, in a low-cut white swimsuit and black T-shirt that were a perfect foil for the accessories: two-tone flats, a black 2.55 handbag, an oversize quilted tote and oodles of necklaces, in the kind of pileup that Lagerfeld made a trademark of ‘90s Chanel.
Some looks appeared teleported from that era: a cropped T-shirt with “Chanel” spelled out in sequins was paired with a long black skirt with a thong peeking over the waistband, while a pink cardigan came with a matching crop top and shorts. Handbags shaped like bottles of No. 5 perfume, which celebrates its centenary this year, are sure to generate waiting lists.
Viard offered oversized jackets in a variety of hues, including a lilac version printed with double-C logos. Miniskirts featured extended flaps in the back, while a black leather quilted dungaree had the aura of an instant classic.
Flou tends to be Viard’s weak point, and this show was no exception, with a closing sequence of chiffon dresses in an oversized butterfly print that felt like a downer, compared to the rest of the colorful lineup.
Viard took a risk by transporting her audience back to a golden period for Chanel, running the danger of being unfavorably compared with her predecessor. While the media-shy designer will never match Lagerfeld’s bombastic presence, this was a customer-friendly outing that should keep the brand’s cash registers ringing.
SEE ALSO: 
Blackpink’s Jennie, Kristen Stewart Snap Selfies at Chanel
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Karl Lagerfeld’s Personal Items and Art to Be Auctioned Soon

Karl Lagerfeld’s Personal Items and Art to Be Auctioned Soon

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

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