He may have been best known for his tenure as the creative director of Chanel, but Karl Lagerfeld was also the head of women’s wear at Fendi from 1965 until his death, at age 85, this week, just a few days before Fendi presented its fall/winter 2019 collection at Milan Fashion Week. Still, as it did last month when Chanel announced that Lagerfeld was too “tired” to appear at either of its couture shows, the show must go on—though not without a few finishing touches that Fendi added at the last minute, in tribute to the designer.
Upon arriving to the show on Thursday, attendees found that a card featuring a heart, Lagerfeld’s signature, and the date of his death had been placed upon their seats, along with several sketches that Lagerfeld had made of what turned out to be his final collection for the house. Also scrawled in the late designer’s signature handwriting was the phrase “Love Karl,” which was printed above the runway. That soon served as the backdrop for a host of models wearing ponytails similar to Lagerfeld’s signature ’do—including Kaia Gerber and Bella and Gigi Hadid, all of whom had shared tributes to the designer on their Instagram accounts less that two days earlier. (The Hadids had also brought giant bouquets to Fendi’s headquarters the night before.) Gigi Hadid closed the show, which ended by switching from “Heroes” by David Bowie to a video of Lagerfeld sketching his first collection for the house, back in ’65.
Adding to the speculation that she’ll soon be named as Lagerfeld’s successor at the house, Silvia Venturini Fendi—Fendi’s creative partner and the creator of its iconic Baguette bag—stood in for Lagerfeld to (tearfully) take his bow. Backstage, The New York Times reported, everyone—models, hairstylists, and executives alike—joined her in her tears.
Whereas Fendi has yet to announce its plans moving forward, Virginie Viard has been appointed as Lagerfeld’s replacement at Chanel, whose own fall/winter 2019 runway show will take place during Paris Fashion Week early next month. The fate of Lagerfeld’s beloved millionaire “heiress,” Choupette, also remains unknown, but given her fortune thus far, it seems likely she may soon become the world’s richest cat.