Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Lindsey Lanquist
Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him
Photo: Remy De La Mauviniere/AP/REX/Shutterstock.

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Earlier this morning, luxury house Chanel confirmed that its inimitable creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, had passed away at the age of 85, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Lagerfeld leaves behind a legacy that’s as iconic as it is complex; the fashion designer was known first and foremost for rendering the Chanel label an absolute powerhouse, though many will also recognize him as the man who rarely held his sharp tongue, especially when matters of size and appearance were concerned.

It feels just as strange to celebrate Lagerfeld, a symbol of fashion’s old guard, as it does to ignore this news. Lagerfeld was simultaneously a creative inspiration and a problematic favorite; these things aren’t mutually exclusive—in fact, they often aren’t. We’d be remiss not to reflect on the gamut of art Lagerfeld contributed to our world. And we’d be just as remiss not to celebrate the woman set to follow in his footsteps: Virginie Viard.

Viard has, by Lagerfeld’s own suggestion, served as the former creative director’s right and left hands since the pair began working together at Chanel in 1987. “I immediately dispatch each sketch to each première d’atelier, according to her skills and capabilities. I visualize the show, get things ready for him, decide on materials, coordinate the teams, and liaise with suppliers,” Viard told Elle in November 2018. “I like to think of myself as the one who helps his vision come alive.”

Viard and Lagerfeld spent five years at Chanel before moving to Chloé together in 1992, and then returning to Chanel (together, again) in 1997. “I try to—to anticipate what he would like. I love to please him but also surprise him,” Viard continued in her Elle interview. “[Lagerfeld] is very sensitive, like all creative people, but very faithful, generous—which might not be what people would guess.”

Viard, who currently serves as Chanel’s director of creative studio, represented Lagerfeld at Chanel’s couture show in January. The late creative director was reportedly too tired to take the customary end-of-show bow, so he invited Viard, along with Chanel’s director of image, Eric Pfunder, to bow in his stead.

In a moment when we’re struggling to reconcile the fact that someone who created so many beautiful things is also credited with saying things like, “No one wants to see round women” (a comment Lagerfeld made in response to the debate over too-thin models in the industry), it feels good—productive, even—to direct our focus toward his successor. Toward Chanel’s new guard.

There’s something promising in the notion that the person inheriting Lagerfeld’s sartorial fortune is an accomplished woman, given that so much of the controversy Lagerfeld has been embroiled in over the years has largely (but not exclusively) had to do with women, their bodies and their appearances. And we’re looking forward to admiring the myriad creations Viard will undoubtedly contribute to Chanel’s longstanding legacy.

Remembering some of Karl Lagerfeld’s most iconic fashion moments, below:

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2017, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

WWD/REX/Shutterstock.

May 2018, Cruise Collection Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2018, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2011, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2019, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2010, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

WWD/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2019, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall/Winter 2017, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2010, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

WWD/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2018, Cruise Collection Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2009, Paris Runway Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 1998, Ready-to-Wear Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2008, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Thomas Iannaccone/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2006, Pre-Fall Presentation

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2011, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 1999, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Dominique Maitre/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2011, Pre-Fall Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2009, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2010, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

John Aquino/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

2006, Resort Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Thomas Iannaccone/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2006, Pre-Fall Presentation

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2011, Ready-to-Wear Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock.

December 2018, Metiers d’Art Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2018, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Elizabeth Pantaleo/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2018, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2006, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall/Winter 2018, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2007, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2009, Paris Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2008, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Thomas Iannaccone/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2006, Pre-Fall Presentation

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2018, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2005, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Pixelformula/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2019, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 1997, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Pixelformula/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2019, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall/Winter 2018, Ready-to-Wear Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

REX/Shutterstock.

Spring/Summer 2018, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

REX/Shutterstock.

Autumn/Winter 2017, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Pixelformula/Sipa/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall/Winter 2017, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

REX/Shutterstock.

Fall/Winter 2018, Paris Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Thomas Iannaccone/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2006, Pre-Fall Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2006, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Donato Sardella/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

2007, Resort Runway

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2010, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2010, Ready-to-Wear Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2010, Haute Couture Fashion Week

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Fall 2009, Ready-to-Wear Show

STYLECASTER | Honoring Karl Lagerfeld, and Celebrating the Incredible Woman Succeeding Him

Giovanni Giannoni/Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock.

Spring 2007, Haute Couture Fashion Week

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