Après ski has an entirely new meaning, thanks to the winter wonderland created for CHANEL’s FW19 show. With peaks as far as the eye could see, and full size chalets lining the Grand Palais, attendees waded through powdery snow to take their seat for Karl Lagerfeld’s final collection for the iconic house.

A peaceful mountain village welcomed us into the fantastical world imagined by Lagerfeld and his successor and long time collaborator Virginie Viard.

The show came shortly after the news of Lagerfeld’s passing. Many expected a solemn affair, a sole tribute to the designers legacy. However, the rosy cheeked mountain dwellers that paraded through the snow in winter whites, navy blues, and flashes of fuschia and emerald greens built a celebratory atmosphere, one that is sure to be remembered for decades to come.

If you knew Lagerfeld’s signatures, you would see that his final collection, completed by Viard, had his personality scattered throughout, discretely interwoven into each look.

The collection was lively, optimistic, charismatic. It was a glistening transition between two extremely talented creative leads, reassuring that the CHANEL house was left in extremely capable hands. Based on the audible gasps throughout the presentation, ending with an overwhelming standing ovation as Viard took her bow, it’s obvious the industry was moved by the magic of this historic occasion.

A cast of all star supermodels wore brogans enhanced with platform soles, confidently confronting the winter weather with elegance. The wardrobe was marked by the house’s signature masculine/feminine accents, punctuated with houndstooth, tartan and big check motifs that felt romantic underneath a dusting of snowfall. Suits had wide-cut trousers worn high in the waist and coupled with exquisite overcoats. The classic tweed jackets were trimmed with a thick wool braid, left almost raw for a masculine feel. Soft ski sweaters were mixed with urban staples, jackets worn over pencil skirts. The traditionally athletically-oriented style metamorphosized into a contemporary sophisticate, a wardrobe of luxury for a woman whose aspirations refuse to be restricted by impracticality.

The final few looks brought us to the peak of the collection. Romantic white chiffon dresses printed with mini skiers and CC chair lifts were followed by “snow ball” skirts in chiffon and feathers, the tops embroidered with snowflakes in white and gold vinyl. CHANEL ambassador Penelope Cruz dazzled the crowd as she glided across the snowy runway in the second to last look, distilling the modernity, youth and dash of humour that characterizes the CHANEL woman.

As Cara Delevigne led the finale walk, dancing to “We Can Be Hereos” by DAVID BOWIE, I had to hold back tears. As the most anticipated show of the week, the peaceful Chalets came with an avalanche of emotion. It was a cocktail of awe, adoration, nostalgia, and pride.

In a world that is saturated by fast-fashion, copycats, and a tunnel vision for the bottom line, CHANEL rises above. It forges ahead, amidst whatever is happening, to produce the epitome of glamour, elegance and beauty.

When Lagerfeld signed on with the company, he brought a je ne said quois that enamoured the entire world. It was infectious. Addictive. He brought dreams to life, influencing culture through the minor details of a tweed jacket. Witnessing his craft firsthand reaffirmed my love of fashion. It justified apparel as an art form; what we wear carries so much more meaning than just simply being a cloth on our back.

Virgine Viard possesses that same “it” factor, and the industry’s belief in her ability to carry the biggest fashion brand in the world to new heights was solidified by this presentation. Famous fans of the brand such as Kristen Stewart, Liu Wen, Marion Cotilliard, Janelle Monae, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell were all in attendance, beaming with admiration.

A closure of one chapter, and the opening of another. Here’s to all our future  winter getaways – may they fill us with the same serenity as CHANEL in the Snow.

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