Revisit Karl Lagerfeld’s Most Over-the-Top Chanel Runway Shows of All Time

Chanel : Runway - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images

Fashion Week is hard to predict, but for years, if one thing could be counted on season after season, it was that Karl Lagerfeld would always manage to take things up a notch. Over the late designer’s staggering 35 years at Chanel, he put together dozens of truly unforgettable settings for the house’s collections. The shows were traditionally held at Paris’s Grand Palais, which Lagerfeld is known to completely transform to match his unique vision, whether into an airport hangar or a chic brasserie. Among his most lavish executions: a fully functioning grocery store, complete with shopping carts and fresh produce; an underwater-themed oasis featuring Florence Welch performing in a larger-than-life clamshell, à la The Birth of Venus; and a spooky woodland forest. Fall 2017 saw him take a literally out-of-this-world approach with a full-scale Chanel-logo-embossed rocket ship that took off post-finale. His last collection for the house, which showed just two weeks after his death, was no different: For fall/winter 2019, he transported fashion week to a snowy village in Switzerland, complete with log cabins and snow. Join him in the Alps, sur la plage, and beyond with a look at some of his most memorable runway shows, here.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2005
Michel Dufour/WireImage

For the spring 2005 show, Chanel got sporty with a gymnasium-like set, complete with a giant double-C logo emblazoned on the floor.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2006
Michel Dufour/WireImage

Welcome to Chanel’s Hall of Mirrors, here at the fall 2006 runway show.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2005
Michel Dufour

A classic courtyard setting in black and white was the background for Chanel’s spring 2005 haute couture show.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2006
Pascal Le Segretain

A towering spiral staircase to nowhere was the focal point of Lagerfeld’s 2006 couture collection.

Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2006
Michel Dufour/WireImage

What better way to show off couture clothes than a special showcase for each model? Here, in July 2006.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2007
Michel Dufour/WireImage

Chanel, meet Printemps. The two shopping meccas met at the spring 2007 runway show.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2008
Michel Dufour/WireImage

Lagerfeld was feeling sporty for spring 2008, crafting an Olympic-like stage.

Chanel Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2007
Chris Moore/Catwalking

Chanel was off to the races—horses not included—for the house’s fall 2007 couture collection.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2008
Karl Prouse/Catwalking

What’s better than a carousel for adults? A carousel full of larger-than-life Chanel bags, of course, as seen at the fall 2008 show.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2009
Tony Barson/WireImage

Models emerged from a makeshift Chanel store to debut the spring 2009 collection.

Chanel Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2009
Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Giant bottles of Chanel No. 5 decorated the runway for the fall 2009 show.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2011
Michel Dufour/WireImage

Is it cold in here? The Grand Palais got an arctic chill for fall 2011, with giant glaciers overtaking the runway.

Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2011
Pascal Le Segretain

The fall 2011 haute couture show was a wild one, thanks to a giant bronzed lion statue.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2010
Karl Prouse/Catwalking

A charming fairytale-esque field made up the spring 2010 set.

Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2011
Dominique Charriau

Streetlights lit up the dark runway of the Chanel haute couture fall 2011 show.

Chanel Autumn/Winter 2011
Michel Dufour/WireImage

Chanel got apocalyptic for fall 2011, complete with smoke and debris.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2012
Kristy Sparow/GettyImages

Florence Welch was The Birth of Venus incarnate at Chanel’s underwater-themed spring 2012 show.

Chanel Métiers d’Art 2011
Michel Dufour

Who says models don’t eat? Chanel’s 2011 Paris-Bombay show featured a full, decadent buffet.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2013
Kristy Sparow/WireImage

Lagerfeld prepared to blow away his audience at Chanel’s spring 2013 show, filling the Grand Palais with giant wind mills.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2012
Pascal Le Segretain/GettyImages

Jagged, geometric stalagmites covered the space of the fall 2012 show.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012
Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Prepare for takeoff. Guests at the house’s spring 2012 haute couture show got first-class treatment as they boarded Chanel Airways.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2013
Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Models traipsed through an enchanted forest for the spring 2013 haute couture show.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2013

It is Karl Lagerfeld’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Here, the fall 2013 set.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2013

A worn-down theater was an unexpected backdrop to the perfectly polished fall 2013 collection.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2014
Michel Dufour/WireImage

Lagerfeld made fashion an art form for spring 2014, transforming the Grand Palais into a gallery, filled with his own paintings.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2015
Pascal Le Segretain/GettyImages

The models took it to the man-made street for spring 2015, showing off the art of the peaceful protest.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2015
Kristy Sparow

Paper flowers made for a whimsical backdrop to Chanel’s spring 2015 couture collection.

Chanel Autumn/Winter 2015

Lagerfeld served up his fall 2015 collection with a side of coffee at this makeshift brasserie.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2014
Michel Dufour/WireImage

Attention all shoppers: Cara Delevinge led models through an aisle of food at the grocery store–set fall 2014 show.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2016
Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage

Lagerfeld hit the airport once again, this time turning his spring 2016 show into a chic waiting area.

Chanel Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015

Celebrities including Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, and Lily-Rose Depp gambled as models took to the casino floor for the 2015 couture show.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2016
Victor Virgile/Getty Images

Welcome to the dollhouse. Here, for haute couture spring 2016.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2017

Fall 2017 took flight with the launch of Chanel’s rocket ship as Lagerfeld took his final bow.

Chanel Cruise 2018
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The set at the Chanel cruise show in May 2017 transported its crowd all the way from Paris to ancient Greece.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2018
Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Chanel’s spring 2018 show brought the Gorges du Verdon river canyon from the south of France to the north.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2018
Peter White

For fall 2018, Lagerfeld took the “fall” thing very seriously, filling the space with crunchy leaves and sparse trees.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2019
Dominique Charriau/Getty Images

With the help of some actual waves washing ashore, barefoot models, and a lifeguard, spring 2019 saw Lagerfeld transform the Grand Palais into a full-on beach.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2019
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images

Lagerfeld has only himself to blame for looking relatively tame by simply installing a Mediterranean garden inside the Grand Palais for Chanel’s spring 2019 couture show—a feat that would put any other designer to shame.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2019
Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images

Cara Delevingne led the pack of (tearful) models, including Penélope Cruz, who did their final lap for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel’s fall 2019 show, which took place just two weeks after the late designer’s death. Lagerfeld reportedly knew he was dying when he was working on the collection with Virginie Viard, who’s since been appointed his successor as creative director, but he still stuck to pulling out all the stops: This time, he and Viard transported models and showgoers to an alpine village in Switzerland, complete with snowy fir trees, mountains, and log cabins with chimneys that were actually puffing smoke.