'Tired' Karl Lagerfeld, 85, misses final bow at Chanel couture show
Absence at Paris summer fashion reveal prompts concern over designer's health
Designer Karl Lagerfeld missed his usual end-of-show bow at Chanel's summer showcase in Paris on Tuesday, as the increasingly frail couturier said he was "tired."
Lagerfeld, 85, was instead replaced at the end of the runway showcase by his longtime studio director Virginie Viard appeared through a door in the lavish Italian villa decor that had been painstakingly created by the house.
The absence immediately prompted surprise and concern about Lagerfeld's health from many fashion editors attending the show at the Grand Palais, which had been dressed up as an 18th-century Italian villa for the event.
At the end of the first show at 10 a.m., an announcement explained the designer would appear for the noon presentation. But come noon, the German-born couturier was absent again.
It's the first time in recent memory that Lagerfeld, who has designed for the Parisian stalwart since 1983 and was a contemporary of the late Yves Saint Laurent, has not been physically present to receive applause at the end of a show.
In a statement, Chanel said "for the traditional greeting at the end of the show, Mr. Lagerfeld, artistic director of Chanel, who was feeling tired" asked Viard "to represent him" — without providing any further details.
Despite the unease created by Lagerfeld's absence, a gentle geometry defined Chanel's summer silhouette on Tuesday — one that riffed on the décor's impressive architecture. The set this season featured a shimmering Italian Chanel villa at centre-stage, with steps that led the gaze down to live palm trees, grass and a rectangular pool.
Shivering and dripping guests were momentarily transported away from Paris's subzero temperatures and snow to enjoy a moment of summer bliss, and the clothes' pastel hues glistened in floodlights evoking warm sunshine.
Skirts featuring slits and long vertical lines in the centre of the body were a central theme in this season's feminine 62-look collection.
A silvery skirt-suit, a house signature, opened the show with a slit running down the leg to the season's new shoe: a backless pointed heel with a full-fronted panel.
Marie Antoinette director Sofia Coppola was among VIP guests invited to admire Villa Chanel's full skirted designs.
"I did think of Marie Antoinette when I saw the pink dresses at the end. They were beautiful," she told The Associated Press. "[It evoked] a bygone era to see the dresses with the feathers up close," she added.